Tattoos combined with flora and fauna in these photo-based works, using palladium brushed on translucent thin gampi paper, evoke our intimate, primordial and sensual connection with all animate beings.
I see tattoos as gateways to merge with the larger world of animals and plants. With my photographs of tattoos, I look for corresponding parts of nature when I plan my works. The resulting visceral narratives embrace ritual, symbolism and identity unified with the fragility of our perishing environment.
I work with nature tattoos, such as animals, serpents, vines, flowers, butterflies and iconography of mythic intent. Evident in my work is that the skin, now covered, metamorphoses into an animal creature.
Close ups of the tattoos, floating on and penetrating skin, unified with closely seen botanics are like the film frames that transport us in Wim Wender’s poetic film “Wings of Desire”. Like Anna Atkins, I bring seaweed back from sea walks to make camera-less negatives in my darkroom. I transform flowers, plants, feathers and insects in the same way.
Similar to the poetic collages of contemporary artist, Wangechi-Mutu, I explore the displacement of the body and assemble a new order. I explore the desire inherent in tattoos as Robert Mapplethorpe explored bodies. Similar to Irving Penn, I employ the ability of palladium to make tonal distinctions of extreme subtlety.
I believe in imagery that uses the power of its materials and its immediacy to give form, beauty, and illumination to our relationship to the earth. I paint palladium emulsion on Japanese gampi paper, handmade from the fibers of a wild plant. This paper has the quality of silk.
The darks of palladium, a metal 35 times more rare than gold, reflect light. Brushing the palladium on translucent, hand-made, plant based paper gives the effect and sensuality of skin. Because I use the sun for exposure, these unique art works have a naturally occurring spontaneity. Using watercolor to enhance some of my unique works adds vitality.
I photograph people’s tattoos with a 4X5” camera. Word of mouth through friends and tattoo artists has provided a steady stream of tattoo enthusiasts who model for this project. In gratitude for participating and sharing their tattoos, each person receives two 8X10” professional gelatin silver prints of his/her tattoos.