DEB STONER: More Pictures About Flowers and Bugs
February 8 – April 18, 2020
Opening Reception: Saturday, Feb. 8, 6 – 9pm, Artist Talk 7pm.
My work involves keeping an open mind as I use my skills as a photographer, a researcher and a gardener to make still-life photographs. My background as a jeweler informs my obsession with scale and precision. Since 2001, an ongoing project involved growing plants to cast in precious metals as a way of freezing a moment, a routine now mirrored in my current still-life photographs. These complex visual constructs use the flora and fauna of a very small region, usually my neighborhood in Oak Grove, Oregon, to show the viewer unusual details of natural forms revealed at high magnification. Although intrigued and informed by the work of 16th century European floral still life painters, my current work is more inspired by the tangled and complex compositions of Bosch and Bruegel. As an artist in love with all things photographic, I work by placing objects directly on the horizontal glass of a high-resolution flatbed scanner. Working with flora that actively fades generates challenges that engage my creativity. The scale of the objects I photograph is especially exciting when it introduces confusion with no digital trickery: there are summer days in my garden when a watermelon, picked when very young, is the same size as a grasshopper. I pay attention to these phenomenal and ephemeral events and make images with them in real-time.
In making my photographs for the Palos Verdes Art Center’s Building Wrap, I was keen on seeing my work on a scale that I’d only imagined. Working with the placement of images to the flat planes of the blocky exterior walls became a way to engage the viewer’s perception of distance. Seeing the highly magnified details revealed on the exterior of the building is thrilling!
The honor of wrapping PVAC’s exterior extended to a working opportunity supported by the RLES Burke Residency Program, with additional funding by grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation. During that time, I gathered flora from the area surrounding PVAC, as well as from the South Coast Botanic Garden, resulting in new ideas and directions that will influence my future work, including two pieces in this exhibit. In a sometimes confusing and divisive world, I believe there is a need and desire for non-confrontational, original, and beautiful work that gives people a new way of looking at and appreciating the natural world. I love knowing that my work fits PVAC’s mission of inspiring “adults and children to create, appreciate, and celebrate art.” I sincerely thank all at PVAC for this imaginative and inspiring opportunity.
Deb Stoner is an artist with deep roots in craft and fine art photography. She holds an MFA in Applied Design from San Diego State University, a BS Geology from UC Davis, and a decades-long teaching career at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. She shows work in galleries as well as permanent public art collections, lectures widely, is the recipient of grants and artist residencies and sells work to enthusiastic collectors.