In our desire to reframe the conversation about Corona, taking the narrative of a dark virus and exposing it to light, cleansing our souls, our online Corona exhibition speaks to a new way of seeing. The unique view of Barbara Ford Doyle’s Artichoke is a playful look at light and dark, texture, color and our assumption of a corona of light. In science terms, a “corona” is a usually colored circle often seen around and close to a luminous body (such as the sun or moon) caused by diffraction produced by suspended droplets or occasionally particles of dust. Doyle’s Artichoke comes from a series called Peaches and Penumbras. We loved the idea of the play between the moon with the sun for the natural balance between light and dark, moon glow and sun rays.
How does light play in your work?
My analog background has been an advantage in understanding camera functions (think Pentax K 1000), metering light, mixing chemicals, dodging with a cotton ball on a stick, etc. When I first converted to digital, I used a DSLR camera for “serious” photographs and my iPhone for “other stuff.” No longer. The unfussiness of using an iPhone camera (and the fact that it is always with me) enables me to capture countless images to store in my digital library. To name a few files: Dale Chihuly, antique papers, dumpster textures, lint, oxidized aluminum, clouds, Sonoma tiles, tissue paper, reflected light. My interest is to create a dialogue between my “start” photograph, a computer composite, and a final printed image using an alternative hands-on process. I want my work to have a strong luminous and tactile quality.
Playing on the ideas of Corona, your piece Artichoke comes from a series called Peaches and Penumbras, with the play between the sun and moon illuminating our imagination. Working with organic objects, like artichokes, how did this vision of penumbra come about?
I started this series when I was making relish to save a crop of red peppers from freezing. Cutting the peppers in half, I was fascinated by their mysterious internal worlds. The seeds in some looked like teeth, other concavities were more sexual. At the same time, I was reading Howl and Other Poems by Alan Ginsberg. An on-line analysis explains Ginsberg’s intent this way: The penumbras, a word meaning “shroud” or “partial illumination,” are meant to designate the secrets that such displays of nature and domesticity hide. I started cutting lots of fruits and vegetables in half.
Here are the first few lines from A Supermarket in California:
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the side streets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?
You create one of a kind objects with your photo transfer process. This process can often lose sharpness and vibrancy in the transfer. How do you keep your images so filled with light and life?
I use the Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw Filter to correct color and adjust texture and sharpness. The file size is large with a high resolution. The background glow for this series is from a photo of sunlight on a Sonoma floor tile. All my images are photo transfers on to DASS™ film using an Epson printer. I use bright white Yupo paper as the substrate. Each transfer has peculiar characteristics, just as each of my subjects is unique in nature.
In this time of COVID-19, how do you find light in your day?
I live on Cape Cod where the light is ever changing. And I have a dog. We begin each day with an early morning run on the beach.
What is next for you creatively? What are you working on?
I am working on a series of emulsion lift “quilts” for an exhibition titled: Altered Realities.
By shooting multiple exposures, I use the camera to explore and make sense of the world around me.
From different points of view, layers of space-related information superimpose as one print. Choosing to print in black and white further distances the subject from reality by making urban landscapes timeless and the shapes and textures more compelling. Each composite “quilt” is made up of nine emulsion lift “skins.”
About Barbara Ford Doyle –
Doyle was born and raised on a small farm in Connecticut. She attended UMass Amherst and Southern Connecticut University majoring in art education. Moving to Cape Cod, she taught art/photography in public schools and published a line of stationery products.