Deborah Bay‘s opens in a new windowTraveling Light series plays with vibrant saturated color, angle, shape and form to create new ways of experiencing how light and reflection plays on materials. We first saw Deborah’s work at the Griffin in 2016 in our opens in a new windowBullet Points exhibition. This series, Traveling Light plays with the visual scale, crafting abstract visions with sharpness and clarity. We asked her a few questions about the series, and how light plays into her day.
How does light play in your work?
Light was the point of origin for this body of work. I had been thinking about some of the Bauhaus light studies and became interested in using color to further explore how light moves across optical objects.
In your series Traveling Light color and shape are intertwined in each image. How did this series come about?
In addition to contemplating the work of Moholy-Nagy and others, I also was influenced by the abstract geometries of constructivism and the color field movement. Those ideas all came together as I began experimenting with tabletop constructions using small lenses and prisms. Most of the objects are only about 1 or 2 inches tall, so there’s a wonderful disconnect when you see them in a 40×40 print.
The color comes from gels placed in front of small lights around the shooting table. As I was photographing, I became fascinated with the way that various colors traveled over planes of the objects, separating them from the background, or created thin chromatic circles around lenses with a wash of color in the background. The images are all produced in-camera.
There are endless combinations of light and color. How do you know when you have the right combination?
It is amazing how many permutations there are of light and color, so it was a challenge to get the color blend and other factors in just the right combination. With a digital camera, though, I could shoot numerous images with slight variations since the sensor would capture the color and depth of field in sometimes surprising ways. And, of course, intuition always plays a role.
In this time of Corona, how do you find light in your day?
During these Corona times, my routine on the best days has been to spend the afternoon in the studio, where the windows are covered and tiny lamps illuminate the tabletop setting. But in the mornings, I like to walk in the park and then review the previous day’s shoot in my home office, which has a lot of light filtering through the trees.
What is next for you creatively? What are you working on?
I’ve been exploring an idea with the working title of Traveling Light 2.0. It’s based on the same concept of using color to investigate how light moves across surfaces but with a much more textural component. Some of the images are totally abstract in a very painterly fashion, while others are more representational. The surfaces have been altered in such a way as to further disrupt the diffusion of light and color. It’s still early in the investigation, so I’ll save the details for another time.
About Deborah Bay –
Deborah Bay is an American artist who specializes in constructed studio photography. She has exhibited throughout the United States, most recently at Photoville Brooklyn and Texas Contemporary 2018. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Dorsky Museum of Art at State University of New York at New Paltz. The British Journal of Photography has featured her work on its cover, and her images also have appeared in Popular Photography, BBC Focus and the Oxford American, among others. She lives in Houston, Texas, and holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin.
To see more of opens in a new windowDeborah Bay‘s work log onto her website. She is represented by FotoRelevance in Houston, Texas.