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Historical Artist – Sandy Skoglund Admittedly so, I knew nothing of Sandy Skoglund or anything about her work. Learning that she was a professor of art really meant nothing to me. Until I looked at her work and how she created it all I had no interest. I learned that Sandy spends 6 months to a year to create her backgrounds. Only then feel her work is ready to allow her models the opportunity to pose for her. In the background she uses, she often uses food because she feels it is what people relate to.

I have seen art using different media and fact of her using food did not surprise me too much, but to see how she used it was the amazing part. Spending, at the very least, 6 months to create just a simple – not so simple – background is quite amazing. In 1978 Sandy created images like Cookies on a Plate where she simply took seven fudge striped cookies and strategically placed them on a plate. The plate was striped in colors of yellow, blue, green, orange and red. The plate was then placed on a plaid table cloth where some of the lines were thick and some thin.

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The cookies and the plate were angled the create illusion that they were a part of the table cloth. She also created Nine Slices of Marble Cake. In this image, she took nine perfectly cut squares of marble cake and carved their edges in a rounded shape to create a circle out of squares. She then took the circle and placed it on a blue, black and white marble table or counter top which looks almost paisley. Though the colors are completely different, the contrast is quite nice. The brown and beige against the blue stands out marvelously. These were simple images compared to her recent creations.

By 1981 she was creating images that really reflected images of reality. http://www. batguano. com/bgma/revenge. jpg Revenge of the goldfish looks to have little goldfish floating throughout the room, coming out of the drawers and from under the bed. The live models used seem completely oblivious to the floating creatures around them. One is awake sitting on the side of the bed while the other sleeps peacefully. I image the person sitting on the side of the bed to have a stomach ache. Perhaps he ate too many goldfish crackers and they are now coming back to haunt him.

Maybe he just visited an aquarium with goldfish on display and he is too excited to sleep. The entire room is painted in al light blue color and the only other colors are the orange on the fish and the colors of the live models. The bodies of the goldfish are presented in such a way that they actually seem to be floating through the air and resting on an ocean floor. In 2000 she did a layout for coke which she called Landscape in Roses. In this she used six panels 98” x 40” in size. http://www. sandyskoglund. com/pages/recent/coke/cokeindex. html

On each panel she laid yellow roses out on each panel then carefully placed cans of coke products; coke, sprite, dasani water, tab, glasses filled with a dark liquid and powerade. Using both cans and bottles, she took the cans and decorated them in western wear; adorning them with cowboy hats and little legs with boots that appear to be walking. She used the old style glass bottles of coke and the plastic of both coke and sprite. This installation was commissioned by the Coca Cola Company in Plano Texas – I wonder if it is still on display today.

On Sandy’s website there are several movie clips to watch where she is in the process of positioning her models and taking the photos. I was able to watch what she called The Cocktail Party and Walking on Eggshells. For the cocktail party she actually glued cheese doodles to her live models. Not to mention that the entire room, the floor, the walls, the furniture, the lamps and the mannequins were also decorated in cheese doodles. It is a wonderful display of orange. I don’t know if you have to appreciate the color orange to appreciate this piece but it is one that I enjoyed watching.

The making of Walking on Eggshells was also pretty cool. The nude ladies in the picture were not the least bit worried about the snakes and rabbits in the room, they were just going about their normal duties; one was entering the bathtub and the other was walking to the sink. While photographing them you could see how they were concerned about cracking the carefully laid out eggshells but they were able to accomplish the shot. While learning about this artist, I found that I my brief visit afforded me two favorites. One was created in 2003 and is titled Picnic on Wine http://www. sandyskoglund. com/pages/recent/picwine/picwine. html

What I really like about this picture is how the sky was captured. It looks so lifelike. I wish I could have found a mini-clip of this setting. There is a restaurant here, The Alamo Cafe, which has their ceiling painting to give the illusion that you are outside. I’ve always thought this was pretty cool. In Sandy’s picture, the trees look lifelike and so do the grass and the lake in the background. I guess that is the point. There are glasses of wine on the ground and the mannequins are on top of them while the live models are surrounded by them. The ladies are in a red dress, to match the wine while the man in the photo is topless.

He is dressed for a picnic but the ladies appear overdressed. The colors in this photo make it my second favorite. The one I liked the best – of those I saw, was the one on display for her most recent display. It is also the photo that adorns her home page – Fresh Hybrid. http://www. sandyskoglund. com/pages/recent/fresh/fresh. html This was the first painting I saw and although I thought it was different, I didn’t think it was spectacular, until I read about the image and then zoomed in. There are baby chicks in the trees! Without zooming in on this, I would never have guessed.

I saw the mannequins and how fuzzy they were. I also saw the lower portion of the trees was made to be human bodies. I noticed how everything appeared to be real fuzzy and thought ‘humph that’s different’. After reading about its creation, I also learned that the background was made of all blue pipe cleaners and the grass below which appears to be going through the change with the season, was also pipe cleaners. I thought that was truly amazing. There is a real life dog in the photo that seems to have really found something in the grass – that is not really grass. That shows that photography is all about timing.

I truly have a great appreciation for this artist and a new found sense of the different things that can be accomplished with a camera. Granted the photo is only a small part of her creations, but it is what captures the images she creates. Her creativity is beyond anything that I have seen. I loved learning about her installations and although I know the other artists assigned were for each individual in the class but I cannot help but wonder what else I am missing out on – guess I will have to take a peek later. This artist is one that I will continue to follow and though I don’t know the cost of her creations, I hope to one day own one.

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