Explosion in the lab!

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Taylor Engel, untitled

I’ve always been a sucker for the Laverne Krause Gallery in the AAA building on the UO campus. It was the site of my first Polaroid adventure ever (remember “Big Balls“? Didn’t think so!), and where I got the squeamish delight of inspecting pink wax casts of raccoon feet.

The gallery is a giant laboratory for young artists to test their work with the public. That’s why it’s so great: even if the artist’s hypothesis fails, her experiment will surely bubble and fizz in some sort of chemical reaction.

That’s how I felt about one piece that was hidden behind a black paper curtain, which created a sort of isolation room to view a formation of canvases covered in painted geometric shapes, which shifted visually and emotionally depending on the color of an ever-changing light. Gosh, that was a long sentence! But that’s how the piece felt: like a convoluted term paper waiting to be written rather than an art piece created with passion.

And then there are the diamonds in the rough like Taylor Engel, who fixed her photos to the wall with thumbtacks. I was particularly struck by this piece, initially because of the attention to those graceful, natural curving and curling lines of the woman’s hair.

The piece is an excellent psychological portrait. The woman’s identity is obscured- or is it lost in a haze of thought or fatigue or confusion? A sharp shadow on her nose contrasts with the out of focus but almost smooth texture of her mouth. It’s as though her lips are sealed shut! Stunning and unsettling.

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3 comments
  1. taylor said:

    Thanks for showing my piece!! I like your analysis and think it is right in line with the photo. I like to think the woman in the photo is drowning in her own emotional stress. This is also referenced by a tiny drop of water in the foreground, one of the few things really in focus. This photo was shot using a scanner, which i think is a great tool for photography and offers a great combo of narrow depth of field and time sensitivity. I mostly take photos of/draw pictures of women, I’m not exactly sure why I do this, but a lot of my stuff tends to have a feminist undertone throughout.
    – thanks again, taylor

  2. Margaret Engel said:

    Inspiring work Taylor Jean! You are most generously talented.

    Margaret.

  3. Taylor,
    I totally forgot to mention that little droplet! I remember being fascinated by it, and wondering exactly how you managed to capture it so clearly. You’re a truly skilled photographer.
    Let me know if you’re showing any more of your work!
    Jordan

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