As an artist with a reverent curiosity about the natural world, I am a constant collector of leaves, pods, shells and other commonplace wonders, mostly gathered near my home. A few years ago I began photographing the specimens in my collection, inspired in part by the carefully classified and preserved specimens in the vast collection of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Rather than simply documenting the specimens as objects, however, my intent is to convey the mysteries that I feel in their presence, exploring themes of fragility and endurance, beauty and decay, chance and destiny, life and death.
With these contradictions at heart, I begin with a simple background of white paper and the constantly shifting light from an east window. I have become acutely attuned to the morning daylight variations in my east bedroom and to the constantly shifting angle of the light as it moves across my floor in moments, hours, days and seasons. What pulls me to this little patch of sunlight is, most of all, my sense of play, delighting in the infinite, radiant, magical variations drawn in the shadows as I turn and place each object in the light. It is an intuitive, improvisational process, akin to drawing and collage, using a variety of props outside the image to alter the fall of light within my frame. I work quickly as the light moves, using my camera to preserve each specimen in an ephemeral framework constructed solely of light and shadow.
In the course of this process, I sometimes witness a startling moment when the mundane reality of the specimen undergoes a quiet metamorphosis. Here, outside of time, place, and scale, a tattered leaf or pressed wildflower enters an ambiguous, metaphorical realm. Hovering between specimen and poetry, science and art, the moment challenges me to measure the immeasurable: the inevitability of loss and the transcendence of beauty.
The Traces portfolio continues my exploration of the interface between drawing and photography, with an emphasis on the textural and expressive qualities of mark-making. Like all of my work, these are direct photographs, not samples of digital wizardry. Working at an east window with morning light, I sandwich natural objects between layers of scratched/drawn Plexiglas, glass and acetate and then shoot through the layers, as if peering through levels of time and memory. Some of the images are then printed as negatives, as well as positives. Like the objects themselves, these images resist classification, existing somewhere between drawing and photography, documentation and fiction, body and spirit.
The Weight portfolio reflects our culture's persistent and evermore precise attempts to measure, classify, and define all that is essentially transient and intangible. I love the simple design of old scales, their rusted faces and clock hands, their tippy balance mechanisms and innocent expectations of accuracy. If only it could be so simple. How much does a moment weigh? A word? A lifetime? How can I reconcile the limitless presence of the world with my own fleeting and finite existence? These images are still life compositions balancing between stillness and life, poetic attempts to measure what is, in the end, always a mystery.
Specimens: a stirring of air, a shifting of light
This book is available in 2 editions (large hardcover and small softcover) and presents the complete Specimens portfolio. The book also includes an interview with Julie Meridian by Brooks Jensen, editor of LensWork magazine.
The Shadow Collector
The Shadow Collector explores the mysterious nature of shadows through the eyes of an artist and writer. With lyrical text and evocative photographs, it offers a glimpse into the rarely seen world of an artist's inspiration process and playfully relates this process to a child's experiences and fantasies.
The Old One and the Dragon
The Old One and the Dragon is a fairy tale about childhood and a metaphor about aging. Ultimately, it is a journey to a place where memory and imagination teach us how to invent and re-invent our lives.