1) Who is Sandy Skoglund?
2) What is the philosophy behind her art?
3) Choose one of her installations to explain its meaning.
1) Sandy Skoglund is an American photographer and installation artist. She creates surrealist images by building elaborate sets or tableaus, furnishing them with carefully selected small children and other objects, a process of which takes her months to complete. Finally, she photographs the set, complete with actors. The works are characterized by an overwhelming amount of one object and either bright, contrasting colors or a monochromatic color scheme.
2) Sandy Skyoglund shapes, bridges, and transforms the plastic mainstream of the visual arts into a complex dynamic that is both parody and convention, experiment and treaties. She remains an individual at a time when huge quantities of art are produced for the masses and some art is even produced collaboratively, generically, and globally. She keeps her work coolly non-didactic, accessible, and delightful to the eye.
Skyoglund’s works is also hypocritically false and synthetic, as much of it is drawn from and reflects an artificial and consumerist culture. “I would say that it falls within the idea of a theme park…almost nonart.” Skyoglund’s respond for the reporter who wanted Skyoglund how to define herself. This reply is as close as anyone has come to encapsulating Skoglund’s work into a single, board term. Her comment does help us understand the synthesis of the photographer, set designer, painter, sculptor, and filmmaker all represented in one person and the mediums all combined in one work. Yet the opposite of this aesthetic synthesis may, in fact, be true. Rather than being less art (or even nonart). Skyoglund’s work may indeed be more art—turbocharged, super, high test, ultra, maxi, premium, advanced, and exclusively hers.
Breathing Glass is Skoglund’s first pictorial sideshow to incorporate glass. Thousands of individually lampworked and mechanically choreographed glass dragonflies flutter amidst miniature marshmallows, against a background of ethereal blue. The illusion is achieved on an entirely different plane in Skoglund’s photograph. Together, the installation and the image suggest that truth may be as elusive as creativity itself. In Skoglund’s own words, “Truthfulness is problematic in everything, and the camera is no more guilty of being untruthful than anything else.”
“Breathing Glass” features thousands of individually lamp-worked, mechanized glass dragonflies, which flutter amidst miniature marshmallows, against a grid of blue-glass panels. An intricate glass mosaic glitters on the floor, while upside-down figures float weightlessly through the work’s open space. The artwork, which will be installed by the artist, will be on permanent view as of Saturday, February 20th in the Lowe’s Tobin Gallery. The installation has been underwritten at the Lowe by local art collector Francien Ruwitch. The book Sandy Skoglund: The Artificial Mirror will be available pre-signed at the Lowe Art Museum Store while supplies last
True to Skoglund form, photography will also play a part in “Radiance,” a completely new, untried idea of the artist’s that seeks to plunge workshop participants into a primal process symbolized by interaction between the ancient staff of life and a childhood craft. After students paint and stab the loaves of bread, they’ll be photographed in their own playground of an installation amid vibrating, contrasting colors.
Like “Breathing Glass” itself, it will be an exercise in walking through doors of perception. And who knows what they’ll find on the other side?