Syllabary for a Natural World
The natural world has provided me with a particular way of seeing. My work combines nature, science, photography and digital processes to create a language that is uniquely my own, where the interaction of plants, the patterns and growth in community, is a form of knowledge.
As human beings, we may lose touch with nature, but our senses are built for this environment. My ongoing work explores that unconscious collaboration between the natural world and the human mind. Choices of perception, unconscious parsing of the visual field, and cognition inform my practice.
It has been said that if we do not have a word for something, it is unacknowledged, hard to bring into consciousness as an actual thing in the world. This series, Syllabary for a Natural World, reaches back to prehistoric expressions of mark making to explore the innate complexity and language of the natural world, to restart a process of abstraction and understanding.
In this series, I examine an array of questions. How do our minds build meaning through symbols and written language? What if there exist whole sets of language waiting for discovery? Where does one thing end and the next begin? How does our ability to see just one choice among thousands become available to us? Where are we at any moment in the dance of filtering perception and meaning?
To these ends I decode the imagery in photographs I have taken, often using the digital darkroom as an alternative process with its own brush strokes. A variety of techniques are used – color extraction, color planes, silhouetting, digital collage, overlaying and recombination – all in the service of a reinterpretation of the nominally seen and felt. My work abstracts an essence: as a form of calligraphy, of slow-motion dance, of communal interaction, of intense meaning.
I am inspired by a childhood lived in nature and books, of trips through the natural world of the Hudson River School, informed by Eliot Porter and Japanese wood block prints, of Klee and Miro, Frankenthaler and Motherwell. More recent photographic influences include Hilla and Bernd Becher, Uta Barth, and John Baldessari.
Deborah Kaplan uses photography to abstract the landscape. She extracts and recombines photographic elements using primarily digital techniques. Deborah’s work reveals a unique lexicon of the natural world, informed by science, aesthetics, and choices of perception.
She has studied at the DeCordova Museum, the Art Institute of Boston, and Maine Media Workshops. Deborah’s experiences, which influence her current photographic practice, include a BA in biology, a career as a software engineer, and as an award winning fiber artist.
Deborah’s work has been featured on Lenscratch. Her work has been shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Photographic Resource Center, the Rhode Island Center of Photographic Arts, the A Smith Gallery, and ArtsWorcester, and as well online at the New York Center for Photographic Arts and Loosenart.
She is an Elected Artist of the Art League of Rhode Island, Exhibiting Member of the Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, the Ground Glass Association of Fine Arts Photographers and the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. Her photographs are exhibited nationally and internally in solo and group shows and online on Artsy and online publications such as F-Stop and the Curated Fridge.
Deborah, originally from Beacon, NY, resides and works in Bolton, Massachusetts.