Released Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Yellow Roses/Milkweed, by Frances Pelzman Liscio.
15% of the sale of this print goes to Puppies Behind Bars.
Curator's note: This is our 2nd print edition with Frances Pelzman Liscio. The first was Two Dahlias, released back in March of 2010. We are thrilled to be working with Frances again!
Frances Pelzman Liscio has had her work showcased in hundreds of group and solo shows. Her work has been published in fine art and design magazines including Traditional Home and Martha Stewart Living and is included in hundreds of private collections. A series of her images were selected by the teNeues fine art publishing company for featured boxed notecards available in their 2009/2010 catalogue. Ms. Liscio was recently commissioned to create a book cover for a Greywolf Publishing author in their Spring 2010 catalogue. She lives and works in Montclair, New Jersey.
Ms. Liscio holds a degree in printmaking, photography and illustration from Manhattanville College. She has studied printmaking with John Ross Sr., photography with Sean Kernan, Eva Rubenstein, Lisette Model, and John Loengard, digital darkroom and printing technologies with Jay Seldin, and botanical illustration with Deirdre Newman.
About the print:
This is one of my favorite images. It incorporates a distinctly Victorian sensibility of delicacy, of heartfelt love, of sincerity and of warmth. I originally created this image as the cover of the small paper yearbook that is distributed among the members of the Garden Club of Montclair. The yellow roses both reveal their magic and conceal it at the same time. The small 'heart' in the middle is actually created from the two sections of a milkweed pod. The curved piece of broadleaf plantain seed stalk reminds me of the woven hair wands that Victorians would make in mourning from the hair of a departed loved one, while the fresh sweetness of the African violets is optimistic and bright. This image also incorporates the green textured 'seedballs' of the Pond cypress that grows at the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair, NJ. They resemble little golf balls. They fit together like a brilliant puzzle, until they ripen and then the entire seed ball comes apart when you touch it. There are also brown dried seed clusters from the wild onions that grow unchecked in the creek bed at the iris garden, and I know they are weeds – they are just magnificent when they are four feet tall and top heavy with bulbils. I pulled those little yellow and red "cushions" off of some cactii – they are prickly but the colors are so delicious that I used them throughout the composition.
I created this work on an Epson Perfection 4490 Photographic scanner. I originally started xeroxing and scanning images many years ago simply because I could not afford a good 8x10 view camera, and I wanted to get closer up to my images. But I also love the unique quality a good scanner brings to the final image. I do very little to the work once it is created, aside from cleaning up the cat hairs (I have four cats) and the pollen from the finished images. Most of the work is done before the image is scanned, with tweezers and manicure scissors, and the baskets and trays full of botanica and natura which fill my studio. Each print was signed and numbered by the artist.
What have you been up to since we last worked together?
This has been an interesting year. My most recent project involved a hospital here in Montclair. I created several groupings of botanical photography for three of their waiting rooms for perinatal care and cardio care. Since I knew the artwork would be viewed by people who might be feeling vulnerable and anxious about health situations, I chose botanical images that were soothing and uplifting. For example, I often seek out botanicals that are desiccated, pocked by mold spots and creased or torn. I didn't think those images would be appropriate for these medical spaces. For this project I chose full, open blooms, fields of rudbeckia, petals on a flower stalk tenderly wrapping around each other in support, warm pink tulips in the sun.
How has your work developed over the last year?
My quest for detail has become more spirited. I've been looking for tinier and even more intricate botanicals and natural materials. And I've been using more 'wrecked' materials, such as a pine cone that was lying in my street for a week or two, repeatedly run over by cars. I used it to create a halo for a statue of a Madonna, and it was lovely and poignant. It reminded me of our own tarnished and battered halos - imperfect but more beautiful and meaningful because of the stresses and anguish.
What is inspiring you these days?
I am inspired by the head of my favorite doll - Cissy, by Madame Alexander. She was a glamorous career woman doll, and I received her as a gift from my Godparents when I was six. She had three wigs and was much prettier and more delicate than Barbie. I literally loved her to pieces. When I came across her head rolling on the floor of my garage last summer, I was stricken with concern and tenderness for her, and vowed to glorify her with a field of flowers. I worked with her all summer, surrounding her sweet pale face with waxflowers, irises, daffodils, berries and more.
You used to be a punk rock photographer. How different - or similar - is that from or to being a botanical photographer and artist?
Flowers don't try to steal my cameras to buy heroin, which is a big relief. Also, I was shooting film as a punk photographer and used a nice, heavy steel Nikomat and the world's most perfect lens: a Nikon 105mm 1.2 fixed focus portrait lens. The punk rockers were sweet, scared and shy, more sensitive than they ever wanted to let on. So I always looked for that kinder, more complex side. Flowers look fragile and they are - compared to, say, a log or a toilet brush. But for all their fragility they are stunningly resilient, and even as the corona of petals fades and fails, they are already working hard at making seed. And seed is unstoppable.
Is the work you do in the winter different from the work you do the rest of the year, when everything is in bloom?
That's when I rely more on my cache of dried stuff - all the shriveled berries, seed pods, and medallions of lichen that cover every surface in my studio. I also buy flowers constantly - both for my artwork, and also because it just looks so pretty to have lots of flowers in the house during the winter months.
Why did you choose to pair Puppies Behind Bars with your print?
When prisoners work with dogs, training the dogs to help others, a transformation can take place that benefits the world and can help to process and transform some of the pain and despair around us. This is true for botanicals. They bloom, they go to seed, they become desiccated, they are consumed with mold, and then they transform – new life starts over and over.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Has anyone discovered a way to keep cat hair out of a printer?