Since 1990 Cynthia Greig (Detroit, 1959) has been making work that explores the exchange of influence between perception and experience, and photography's unique role in negotiating what we believe to be real or true. Before Representations (2002-2008), Greig explored these matters either through installation-like exhibitions or through photographs that challenged our perception of scale. In the series New Eden: The Life and Work of Isabelle Raymond (1993 to present), she created a fictional XIXth century cross-dressing female photographer; Greig made her own XIXth century-like photographs and text accompanying the images, in order to stress the power of photographic documents in the reconstruction of historical facts. In Life-Size (2001-2003), tiny objects are blown up to life-size while being held by gigantic human finger tips; inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver, Greig explores how perception can deceive our understanding of the truth and shows us again that photography can act as an obstacle when discerning between fact and fiction.
From 2002, Greig digs deeper into her conceptual topics, creating and developing her own technique. Representations (2002-2008) and Nature Morte (2008 to present) combine color photography and drawing to create what she likes to call “photographic documents of three-dimensional drawings”. Household and daily items (a toaster, a TV, a camera, shoes) and other transient objects (such as flowers, fruits or candles) are painted white and arranged into a still life set up. The objects are outlined with charcoal, bringing forward the object’s two dimensionality and reducing them to a representation of their original use and identity. The result is a photograph which at first glance resembles a drawing. Greig’s work becomes especially relevant in the digital era, where a truthful value is still attributed to analogue photography as opposed to the deceiving value of digital techniques and manipulating computer tools. Greig’s photographs are analogue; in her own use of the technique, we find the artist stretching the possibilities of photography as a medium, not as a capturer of a fixed reality but as an apparatus that calls into question our perception of reality. In her latest body of work, Nature Morte, the artist introduces the elements of time and drawn shadows, and pays homage to the tradition of Dutch still life painting. Exploring time’s potential to transform matter and preconceptions, these single and sequential images reexamine the nature of materiality and transience, reality and illusion, art and life through the intersection of photography and drawing.
Through the 1980’s and 1990’s she graduated from different universities, acquiring degrees in Printmaking (1981 BFA Washington University, St. Louis, MO), Art History (1988 MA The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA) and Photography (1995 MFA The University of Michigan School of Art + Design, Ann Arbor, MI).
Cynthia Greig’s work is represented in several private and public collections, including: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY, Coleçao Foto Arte/Arte 21, Brasilia, BRAZIL, General Television Network, Oak Park, MI, George Eastman House, Rochester NY Light Work, Syracuse, NY, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago IL (MPP), Museum of Fine, Arts, Houston TX, New Mexico Art in Public Places Program, Santa Fe, NM, Seattle Arts Commission,, Seattle WA, Samuel L. Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, NY, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton,, MA SUNY-Potsdam Museum of Art, Potsdam, NY, Wellington Management Art Collection, Boston MA.
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