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Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz
Esmeralda Ruiz

Esmeralda Ruiz

Country: United States

Artist Statement: "My childhood was different then most. Growing up with nothing but artists was one thing, but having actually flat lined during a surgery after being diagnosed with a kidney infection changed my life forever. It wasn’t that it left me weak or prevented me from going outside and playing or even going to school with other children but the images that I saw when that moment occurred is what I strive to show in my work today.

A wonderful world where the air was crisp and refreshing, with all of its flowers in bloom, my journey begins down a path with little yellow homes on each side. Beyond the path, a valley flowers appeared. On the right there were rocky mountains so enormous that clouds covered their midsection with their snow covered summits peering through. To my left the sound of the ocean was relentlessly crashing into a cliff. As I crossed my valley of flowers and ascended the cliff, I felt a cool yet, strong breeze off the ocean forcing me back. As I looked up into the vast skies above, I was overcome by the ever so omnipotent clouds with their glorious rays of sunlight beaming through. The feeling of leaping into the breeze and flying towards the light was more then overwhelming. Instead, I greeted it with a smile and made my way back to the valley. Relaxed, laying across its delicate wild flowers, my tranquil body curled up and fell into a deep sleep. Awaking to my mother at my bedside, disappointment overcame me with the realization that it was all just a dream.

Weeks passed, the pain healed but my dream still reigned true. Numerous sketches and endless rants of my new world was all that was real. Having to transition from a world of such perfection to a life of obscurity seemed almost inconceivable. As such, a minor state of depression would set in as my life slowly began to drift back into its regular routine. During this time my only solace came from the amazing work found in books from various art movements and even my favorite childhood cartoons. However, as my healing process dragged on, much of what I know about color (and how I use it today) came from all the extra time spent in my parent’s studio. Watching them work and being surrounded by various mediums helped better understand art as a form of expression. This would inevitably forge my desire to show the world what I had experienced on that fateful day.

As the years pass, my dream still lives within me. My thesis project has only driven my need to share my moment with the world in ways I never thought possible. After much soul searching and numerous critiques, I have come to the realization that my utopia isn’t just a dream; it is in the landscapes that have always surrounded me. Those three minutes had and will always have a tremendous impact on my life. If anything, I learned how fragile life is and to always appreciate the beautiful things in life. Photography has allowed me to show what stands out in my eyes by glorifying it in a photograph. It is the best way that I can communicate what I saw and what I felt at that particular moment. It is the bridge between my past and my present.

Source: Esmeralda Ruiz Website

 

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Robert Mapplethorpe
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Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. Of his childhood he said, "I come from suburban America. It was a very safe environment and it was a good place to come from in that it was a good place to leave." In 1963, Mapplethorpe enrolled at Pratt Institute in nearby Brooklyn, where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. Influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, he also experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages, including images cut from books and magazines. He acquired a Polaroid camera in 1970 and began producing his own photographs to incorporate into the collages, saying he felt "it was more honest." That same year he and Patti Smith, whom he had met three years earlier, moved into the Chelsea Hotel. Mapplethorpe quickly found satisfaction taking Polaroid photographs in their own right and indeed few Polaroids actually appear in his mixed-media works. In 1973, the Light Gallery in New York City mounted his first solo gallery exhibition, Polaroids. Two years later he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground. He also worked on commercial projects, creating album cover art for Patti Smith and Television and a series of portraits and party pictures for Interview Magazine. In the late 70s, Mapplethorpe grew increasingly interested in documenting the New York S & M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. Mapplethorpe told ARTnews in late 1988, "I don't like that particular word 'shocking.' I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before … I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them." Meanwhile his career continued to flourish. In 1977, he participated in Documenta 6 in Kassel, West Germany and in 1978, the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City became his exclusive dealer. Mapplethorpe met Lisa Lyon, the first World Women's Bodybuilding Champion, in 1980. Over the next several years they collaborated on a series of portraits and figure studies, a film, and the book, Lady, Lisa Lyon. Throughout the 80s, Mapplethorpe produced a bevy of images that simultaneously challenge and adhere to classical aesthetic standards: stylized compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities, to name a few of his preferred genres. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats, including color 20" x 24" Polaroids, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints. In 1986, he designed sets for Lucinda Childs' dance performance, Portraits in Reflection, created a photogravure series for Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, and was commissioned by curator Richard Marshall to take portraits of New York artists for the series and book, 50 New York Artists. That same year, in 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepted increasingly challenging commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989. His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Today Mapplethorpe is represented by galleries in North and South America and Europe and his work can be found in the collections of major museums around the world. Beyond the art historical and social significance of his work, his legacy lives on through the work of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. He established the Foundation in 1988 to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV-related infection.
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Edward S. Curtis
United States
1868 | † 1952
Born in 1868 near Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff Curtis became one of America's finest photographers and ethnologists. When the Curtis family moved to Port Orchard, Washington in 1887, Edward's gift for photography led him to an investigation of the Indians living on the Seattle waterfront. His portrait of Chief Seattle's daughter, Princess Angeline, won Curtis the highest award in a photographic contest. Having become well-known for his work-with the Indians, Curtis participated in the 1899 Harriman expedition to Alaska as one of two official photographers. He then accompanied George Bird Grinell, editor of Forest and Stream, on a trip to northern Montana. There they witnessed the deeply sacred Sundance of the Piegan and Blackfoot tribes. Travelling on horseback, with their pack horses trailing behind, they emerged from the mountains to view the valley floor massed with over a thousand teepees - an awesome sight to Curtis and one that transformed his life. Everything fell into place at that moment: it was clear to him that he was to record, with pen and camera, the life of the North American Indian. Edward S. Curtis devoted the next 30 years photographing and documenting over eighty tribes west of the Mississippi, from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. His project won support from such prominent and powerful figures as President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan. From 1911-1914 Curtis also produced and directed a silent film based on the mythology of the Rawakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Upon its completion in 1930, the work, entitled The North American Indian, consisted of 20 volumes, each containing 75 hand--pressed photogravures and 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio containing at least 36 photogravures.Source: www.edwardscurtis.com Edward S. Curtis was born near Whitewater, Wisconsin. His father, a Civil War veteran and minister, moved the family to Minnesota, where Edward became interested in photography. In 1892, Curtis purchased an interest in a photographic studio in Seattle. He married and the couple had four children. He later settled in Los Angeles, where he operated photographic studios at various times on La Cienega Boulevard and in the Biltmore Hotel. As a friend of Hollywood producer Cecil B. DeMille, Curtis was commissioned to make film stills of some of DeMille's films, including the epic, The Ten Commandments. In 1899, he became the official photographer for the Edward Harriman expedition to Alaska and developed an interest Native American culture. Curtis is best known for his documentation of Native American cultures published as The North American Indian. From about 1900 to 1930, he surveyed more than 100 tribes ranging from the Inuits to the Hopi, making more than 40,000 photographs. He made portraits of important and well-known figures of the time, including Geronimo, Chief Joseph, Red Cloud, and Medicine Crow. Source: Etherton Gallery
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