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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Flor Garduño






Flor Garduño has been described as a "poet-photographer." Her powerful images of native peoples throughout the Americas, along with her symbolic nude studies and lyrical still-lifes, bridge the threshold between the sacred/temporal worlds, and allow viewers to glimpse what Carlos Fuentes called "the moving portrait of eternity." Once an assistant to Manuel Alvarz Bravo, Garduño quickly found her own independence and vision when she made numerous trips to remote parts of Latin America in the 1980s to photograph the lives and rituals of indigenous people. Her book of this work, Witnesses of Time (1992), was published in six editions and became an international success with exhibitions of the photographs traveling to major museums around the world.

Around this time Garduño gave birth to her second child, an event which made her decide to change how she made photography. Setting up a homemade studio in a small adobe shed next to her house in Tepoztlán, she proceeded to "return to the beginning," concentrating on still lifes and female nudes. She photographed her women friends, encouraging them to chose their own poses. "This collection," said Garduño, "is the product of a collaboration among many friends. It was a circular process, many of these friends wanted to make their own sculptures of themselves, create in their own images." Enriched by her experiences being a mother, Garduño saw the potential in each of her subjects. "Each figure glows as if it were fervently embracing a promise, beaming with an overwhelming fullness," writes Verónica Volkow in her introduction to the book, Flor Garduño: Inner Light - Still Lifes and Nudes, 2002. The exhibit continues through August 10, 2003.

The photographs in "Inner Light" describe a deeply personal realm in which the artist wanders through the multi-faceted territory of the mythic feminine. In her small studio Garduño photographed her friends and still-lifes within a shallow depth of field against the neutral backdrop of cracked adobe floor and walls. It is as if her camera lens were searching out the procreative life force as it invisibly coils through curves of flesh, radiates from the amulet of a baby's hand, springs from calla lilies between a woman's breasts, or slips between a woman's fingers as a snake. The atmosphere Garduño created in her studio was truly fecund. Not only did leaves, flowers and fruit bare their stamens, pistils and seeds to her camera, seven out of ten models became pregnant soon after they were photographed by her. It became a joke among her women friends that if someone wanted to become pregnant they should pose for Flor Garduño.

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Flor Garduño was born in Mexico City in 1957 and grew up there. She studied at the Academy of San Carlos and then became assistant to master photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Garduño's photographs are in the collections of the MOMA in New York, the G.P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and Stiftung fur Fotographie of Zurich. She has published numerous books including Magic of the Eternal Game, 1985; Bestiarium, 1987; Witnesses of Time, 1992, Mesteños, 1994, and Flor Garduño: Inner Light - Still Lifes and Nudes, 2002. Her photographs from Witnesses of Time were exhibited in over forty museums around the world including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, and in numerous international cities. Flor Garduño, her husband and two children divide their time between Mexico and Switzerland.

Liz Kay


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