Art Isn’t Always Pretty

A human figure, abstracted.
Saint Abigail, Pointing to Social Media Wounds

I had the distinct pleasure of working with Abbie lately on a series of Mylar reflections. These images, like a lot of my work, might come across as grotesque. But this is nothing new in art! Depictions of catholic saints commonly depicted their trials and sufferings in gruesome detail. My mother tells of a statue at her childhood church honoring Saint Lucy, who was martyred by having her eyes plucked out. The statue had dark holes for eyes and she held a platter with a cloth covering it- out from underneath peaked her eyes. (The fact that this statue had been hidden away up in the choir loft no doubt added to the creepy nature of it!) Most folks today would find such a thing utterly gruesome, but in its time the statue communicated a story in a way that was much safer to experience than seeing the actual event.

This image with Abbie speaks to me of the damage that social media, and our obsession with fleeting images, does on a daily basis. Contemplation, nuance and just plain old boredom seem to be dead, and we are the poorer as a society for it. (That said, I’ll likely put an edited version of this image up on Instagram to get it out there.) Shooting these kind of images in digital takes me into a flow state where I see and react, but without conscious thought or design. It is distinctly different compared to the wet plate work. Not better or worse, just different. Both provide a semi-meditative working state, and in both I often do not fully appreciate the results until much later after reflection.

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Art is incompatible with social media

This image got banned from Instagram.  Twice. 

art nude done in wet plate collodion tintype

I’m not entirely sure why, although I suspect someone thinks they can see a nipple somewhere in it.  The horror.  I don’t have a problem with sites setting guidelines on what can and cannot be shown.  They are, in a strict sense, private property and can control whatever message is shown there.  Sites like Facebook and Instagram are businesses and as such they have chosen to try an be all things to the majority of people.  And that is where the problem is.  Art and intellectual discourse are by their very nature subversive and outside the realm of consensus.  Every great idea- impressionism, abstract art, relativity, etc, started out as heresy to an orthodox way of thinking.  I am not so vain as to think my work is on the same level, but if you want to find something new, something that makes you think, the middle of the herd is the wrong place to look.  Social media, in trying to be as inoffensive as possible, sands down the sharp and the rough so everything becomes just OK.  The avant garde is not in the middle!

The upside of getting banned is that I will be posting more of my work here, where I can talk about it in a deeper way.  This image is about tension.  Zara is trying to hold a pose, to find stillness.  Ultimately this is impossible.  We can approximate being still, but every fiber of our being vibrates with energy!  Even without life there is movement.  The mountains appear static and un-moving, but observed over eons they change, shift and move.  Stillness is an illusion.  So why do we try to find it?  I think some of it is our perception of time and what its passing does to us.  If we can slow ourselves, perhaps we can pause time itself, or so the thinking goes. 

Posted in Art nude, Nude, Tintype, Wet plate

New Paths: Wetplate Collodion and Beyond

I’ve been pursuing some new creative avenues.


Wet plate collodion selfie

So there is a good reason why there are so few selfies from the wet plate collodion era! Somehow, I managed to do muck up just about everything here, including tearing the emulsion. Yet it still looks interesting to me!

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Camp Tintype 2017

My adventures at John Coffer’s Camp Tintype.


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The Many States of Mylar

Abstract mylar art nude by Lucas JamesThe challenge with Mylar is that so many different things are possible! Continue reading »

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Harnessing the human body

Direct full frontal nudity is so common on the web and in art that it has become cliche´and easy to dismiss as crude, titillating or exploitive.  This is one reason I utilize obscuring or distorted reflective surfaces in depicting the nude.   Continue reading »

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Change Brings A New Perspective

Art nude reflected in mylar sheeting captured as a digital photograph.

It’s been a long while since I have posted, and needless to say there have been some changes in my art and life.  But change can be a good thing. Continue reading »

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Experiments in depicting the human form

Experiments in the Human Form

Things don’t always go as planned in art.  And that’s a good thing!  Experimentation has a key role in creativity. Continue reading »

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New55 Portraits

This will be a quick one!  I dropped by the SOPHA the other day t0 play with some New55 film and to shoot a couple of portraits.

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Back from Cincinnati

We’re back from my opening at Manifest Gallery and while I hope you go see the show, there are so many other reasons to go to Cincinnati! Continue reading »

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