Artist Website: rcarpenterphotography.com
Artist Statement: “Metamorphosis—a profound change of physical form, structure, or substance from one stage to the next; a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances allowing it to adapt to different environmental conditions; magical transformation”
Butterflies are recognized for their beauty. I’ve been drawn to their patterns and effortless movements for years in my paintings, collages, and photography. I used to believe they lived carefree lives of flitting around, eating sweets, and basking in the sun. When I started to see parallels in butterflies’ and my life, I researched the metamorphosis of butterflies to better incorporate those comparisons in my images. What I discovered was that butterflies constantly transform throughout their lives from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult-from birth to death. Their lives are far from carefree because not only do most butterflies’ bodies use color, pattern, smell, etc. as defensive methods of protection, they have myriad proactive offensive methods for self-preservation.
The process of emerging from the chrysalis and spreading your wings is painful, but freeing. Every transition in life can be both challenging and unchaining. There is constant transformation of the body tearing down and building back up in new and compelling ways. This series is a part of my artistic transformation.
I chose the square format for the majority of images for specific reasons. Always an artist who loves a long rectangle, I went outside my comfort zone in picking the square. I chose a “border/frame” for each image to help constrain or box it in like butterflies were often collected and pinned to a background for scientists to study. I’ve incorporated specific colors, patterns, textures and designs that are part of butterflies’ lives and survival to help sync the parallels between butterflies’ and women’s lives. In many of the images, there is a layer of text that incorporates adjectives of metamorphosis and quotations about masks and metamorphosis. I wanted to at least subconsciously share that part of the story in the images. I want the series to show empowered women in all stages of life – beautiful no matter which part of the metamorphosis she’s portraying. The use of two and three-dimensional elements of the series was a conscious decision to incorporate visual and physical textures to create a transformative experience of Metamorphosis. The sculptures are designed to simulate the movement of butterflies as the viewer moves through the space. The collages are created to encourage the viewer to see himself/herself as part of the transformative process.
Biography: An art teacher for sixteen years and now a full-time artist and photographer, I began my visual arts journey in North Carolina after graduating from Appalachian State University. As a military spouse, I was blessed to travel around the country where I could teach, create, learn and grow as an artist. Along the way I earned a Master’s degree in Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and an Associate of Applied Science degree from Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in Photography and Media.
As an educator, I helped children and teens develop their creative skills and become stronger visual artists. As a portrait photographer, I work with my clients to create unique photo sessions that incorporate their personalities. As a fine artist, I love to play with materials and my studio is always overflowing with projects in various stages and a variety of paint and collage mediums. As a photographer, I love to be outside capturing real life OR in my studio creating “surreal life” on my computer.
Currently, I am working on four series. The series I’ve created for this show is titled “Metamorphosis”. As I was photographing models in a vintage 70’s bohemian gauze dress in various outdoor locations, I started seeing connections to the flying patterns of butterflies. An avid landscape photography and lover of butterflies in general, I began to study butterflies. I continued to see patterns and connections between women and butterflies, and the series was born. Began as strictly a photographic journey, I used mixed media to create a more three dimensional experience. The second series I’m photographing is “Abandoned Spaces – The Light within the Darkness.” I hope that I am helping to tell stories through light and shadow of the many places abandoned in America. The third is a mixed-media series incorporating photography, collage, and sculpture of abstracted landscapes. I’m exploring frozen seconds to long exposures, playing with textures visually and tactically, and creating abstracted seasons of color, line, shape, and texture. Fourth is a fine art figure photographic series looking at the duality of forms in various environments.
When I’m not using my camera, paints, collage materials or pencils, I hope I’m outside doing something fun. My husband and I love to ski, scuba dive, bike, hike, and kayak. Our daughter, Kat, also a very creative person, is a hair stylist in Philly. Based now in Maryland, we loved the fifteen years we lived in Stafford, Virginia.