I am not usually a fan of still life images, But Sarah has me hooked. These lush, intense and beautifully crafted images haunt me. I found these during Critical Mass, and I keep going back to them when I need some visual food to enrich me. These images transcend simple photographs, reaching to the lofty heights of fine art in the tradition of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Willem Kalf. Their clarity and attention to detail is mesmerizing to me. These images will last lifetimes.
Take a look.
The photographs in the body of work, Solomon’s House, explore the collections repository of the Anniston Museum of Natural History in Anniston, Alabama. These specimens are taken from the dark storage where they reside, on shelves, in bottles, and in drawers, and bathed with light to illuminate the often disturbing and exquisite elegance of the accumulated and warehoused organisms. By portraying these objects through the tradition of the still life, the artist explores ideas of cultural decadence and beauty in stasis. In addition, these photographs are comprised of numerous single frames combined to construct high-resolution composite images. This allows for the capture and portrayal of the subject in a manner that goes beyond that which is possible through a single exposure. In this way the image exists as a double construction; once as the objects are assembled to be photographed, and again as the frames are combined to form the final image.
The title, Solomon’s House, references a work by Francis Bacon published in 1627 called The New Atlantis. In it, he wrote of a fictitious utopian science facility he called “Solomon’s House” that embodied the growing scientific ideals of the 17th century. Stirred by this fabricated institution, The Royal Society of England requested donations of private collections of natural objects to the society’s future museum of natural history and science. This repository of specimens was used for empirical observation and scientific study, however, the original function of the cabinets of curiosities from which the specimens were collected was to stimulate wonder and awe. It is this mysterious allure of the disquieting collection and the attraction to the confluence of science, technology, and art that informs these photographs.
Sarah Cusimano Miles is a native of Gadsden, Alabama where she is an exhibiting artist, photographer, and educator. Her work has been published and exhibited in venues both national and international, from the Alabama Museum of Natural History to the Borges Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as being in a number of collections. She has received awards from the National Society for Photographic Education, the Center for Fine Art Photography, the Worldwide Photography Gala, PhotoNOLA, and Photolucida. Currently, she teaches at Jacksonville State University where she has contributed to the transition of the traditional film-based photography program to a digital-based curriculum. She has a BFA from Jacksonville State University, and a BS in Psychology and an MFA in Photography from the University of Alabama.
For more of Sarah’s amazing work, please log onto her website.