The Story Behind "Tower" ... by Amy Rockett-Todd

"Tower" ferrotype mosaic assemblage.  MANUS portfolio.  Amy Rockett-Todd 2014.

"Tower" ferrotype mosaic assemblage.  MANUS portfolio.  Amy Rockett-Todd 2014.

"Tower" (detail).  Amy Rockett-Todd 2014.

"Tower" (detail).  Amy Rockett-Todd 2014.

My design and architecture background helps guide my artistic endeavors, which led to this new work, MANUS, combining art, architecture and photography.  With the creation of each piece, I am inspired by historic buildings in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

The Tower piece is based off of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK.  There are 8 image sections symbolic of the 8 residential balcony levels within this building.  The images are adhered to a 30.60.90-degree triangular substrate.  The angle degrees match the angle degrees used within the Tower’s structure, as all angles within the building are either 30.60. or 90 degree angles.  The 8 (4x5) ferrotype images on the right of the piece are abstracted images taken digitally directly from the exterior of the site, then printed onto OHP film and exposed via the wet plate collodion process in the darkroom.  The 8 ferrotype images on the left of the piece are abstracted ginkgo leaf images, symbolic of Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved ginkgo tree.  He had his home and studio originally built around his beloved ginkgo tree.  This piece stands roughly 4 feet tall and includes 16 one-of-a-kind ferrotype images.  The ginkgo images have all been hand-tinted with archival pastels in oranges, yellows, and blues, and have been varnished with a sandarac lavender oil varnish, as all of my collodion images are sealed with this protective varnish layer. 

Most of the architecture-based pieces in the MANUS portfolio are directly born from a building's design.  It's aesthetics and structure is reflected in the way each art piece is photographed, designed, and created.

Art. Architecture. And Photography ... Inspiration! by Amy Rockett-Todd

Individual ferrotypes awaiting final varnishing, to be assembled into a 3D relief composition.  Title: Abundant Life.  2014.

Individual ferrotypes awaiting final varnishing, to be assembled into a 3D relief composition.  Title: Abundant Life.  2014.

This idea of combining art, architecture, and photography has been floating around in concept form internally for years.  Without concrete direction and only free-thinking inspiration, I had begun to gather images … of buildings.  Of trees.  The way structure interacts with its surroundings.  New structures. Old structures.  Their presence today.  Their history over time and how they interact with the present.  Abandoned. Or in use.  Their primary purpose for being built.  Their lifespan.  Exterior adornments – or none. 

I notice the way a root peeks out from a sidewalk slab beside a building’s foundation.  It peers out and reinserts itself back into the sidewalk joint.  On its way.

I suppose the observations themselves intrigue me.  I’m not one to attach myself to a cause or any platform.  I just want to see.  To interpret.  And to create. 

I love to learn.  Learning is a risk.  It involves admitting when you don’t have all the answers.  It involves self doubt, openness, and vulnerability.  It also involves great rewards and answers to come.

As I have taken a step towards this combination of mediums and past inspiration … I have discovered a lot of new (to me) creatives along the way.  They have become unknowing cheerleaders for the work I am currently creating.  Some of these artists have passed on, yet their work continues to speak.  To inspire.  To give new direction.  And thought. 

I soak it all in.   

Now, add to this a fascination for geometric order.  In terms of photography, Neal Cox’s pinhole work ticks all these boxes.  He builds pinhole camera structures based on geometric grids and allows the structure to capture views from the multiple vantage points within his pinhole camera structures.  For him, math meets science meets photography.  The resulting images are incredibly beautiful segments of geometry, reassembled to form glimpses into the particular moment and location in which his constructed mathematical contraption sat.

I have rediscovered Neo-Concretism, a Brazilian arts movement.  The work of artists Lygia Clark, Helio Oiticica, and Gego really excite my spacial sensibilities and touch on art as a form of therapy … sometimes becoming interactive, and always inviting the viewer to become a part of the work.

The grid pieces of Emma Kunz and Agnes Martin also come to mind.

Laurent Millet’s work was introduced to me by friend and colleague, Antonia Small.  And I am creatively indebted to her for it.  Millet seems to find a way of interpreting spacial arrangements into constructed geometries and photographs them using wet plate collodion.

It's a good feeling to open up to new ideas and new work.  I look forward to soaking up more!