A Botanical Bent
By Cate McQuaid, Globe Correspondent. August 5, 2009
The nuance of shadow, light, and texture is breathtaking in Gary Schneider’s black-and-white tabletop still lifes, pigment prints made from negatives he shot about 20 years ago. In “Chestnut and Fig Leaf,” the leaf looks cinnamon-dusted. It’s only the bottom half of the leaf, with the stem pointing up, in this carefully composed image. The gnarled, spiky chestnuts – startlingly ugly – seem to float in space around it, thanks to the table’s reflective sheen.
Steve Miller traveled to the Amazon, where he plucked plants, took them to a hospital in Sao Paulo, and X-rayed them. The images are ghostly, but Miller doesn’t stop there. He makes silkscreen prints over scans of the X-rays. In “Mown Into Softness,” we see the delicate flowers twisting like black fishnet stockings beneath an explosive print of a pink flower and painterly passages of yellow. It’s as if we’re seeing two iterations of the plant – one spectral, the other all gaudy color.
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