Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Conversation with Talia Greene

Entropy Filigree (III) © Talia Greene

Talia Greene has been a long-standing member of Nymphoto. She participated in our second group show and continues to make inspiring images today. Talia's work exudes a three dimensionality that seduces and encourages one to consider elements of texture. When contemplating her work, I want to reach out and touch it (or squash a bug with my finger) - it's a physical response that is so rarely experienced when looking at a two-dimensional, photographic image. It's truly refreshing work. We are therefore pleased to present this conversation with Talia.

Entropy Filigree (IV) © Talia Greene

Tell us a little about yourself.

Talia Greene: I grew up in Berkeley, CA, with parents who very much encouraged my interest in art. I studied art, among other things, at Wesleyan University in Middletown CT, and later went to graduate school at Mills College. I have always made my best work, though, outside of school, and some of my best teachers have been my family and friends. In many ways, I have learned the most about art making from my husband, a philosopher. Now that I have a son, I look forward to discovering how his wonder with the world might affect my work as well.

Entropy Filigree © Talia Greene

NP: How did you discover photography and the arts?

TG: My parents are very supportive of the arts. I made art, and was surrounded by it, from an early age.

I didn't begin to explore photography in my own work until graduate school. There, I began to experiment with materials and object making, but soon found that photographing the objects and pairing them with other photographs was more interesting than the objects themselves.

In all of my recent work, I have used the scanner as the image-capturing device rather than a camera. I arrange materials directly on the scanner, or arrange them on another substrate to be scanned. For my wallpaper work I create the compositions from scanned images in Photoshop. I love the tactile, dimensional quality of the scanned image, but also the creative freedom that comes with digital printmaking.

Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations (Sisters I-V) © Talia Greene

Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations (Sisters IV) © Talia Greene

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

TG: Things strange, yet beautiful or sensual, and things in nature that remind me of the human body: I love fuzzy flower pods, just before the flowers come out, dead leaves that are transparent and veiny, wasps nests, and the web-like nests woven by caterpillars. I often look at the photographs of the 19th century naturalist Karl Blossfeldt, who also focused on the sensual aspects of his plant specimen.

Things full of tiny, precise details and patterns, such as Indian miniature paintings.

Things Victorian: I love 19th century vitrines in science museums. There is one in particular, at the science museum in London, which is very densely packed with moss-covered branches and butterflies. It reminds me of a painting by Walton Ford (an artist who is also inspired by 19th century naturalists) in which a massive flock of birds carries away a branch. I also love Annette Message's early piece in which she dresses a vitrine of bird specimen in hand knit sweaters.

Artwork and crafts that involve hair: Lorna Simpson's series - Wigs, Victorian hair flowers, Robert Gober's Untitled (Hairy Shoe).

Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations (Manzer and Luck I-V) © Talia Greene

NP: How do your projects come about?

TG: Sometimes I have an idea in my head of what the work will be before I make it, though often the final piece evolves away from the original plan. Other times new work comes simply from playing with new materials. I will often focus on a theme, and make several related series that explore the idea.

My current body of work, Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations, builds on a previous series of fly beards. It also is a part of a larger body of work exploring the themes of entropy and the juxtaposition of chaos and control. This particular piece also came out of a connection with a collector of cabinet cards, who generously loaned me some of his cards for this project.

Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations (Globe I-V) © Talia Greene

Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations (Globe IV) © Talia Greene

NP: What's next?

TG: I am working toward a solo show at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art in the fall. I am expanding some current bodies of work, and am working on a wall installation involving my photo based wallpaper and screen-printing.

NP: Thank You!!

To see more of Talia's work, visit her website:

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