There's something at once modern and old-fashioned about Corinne Geertsen's photography.
Not to mention a little bizarro.
The Mesa artist uses digital technology to create surreal collages that meld new photographs with old family portraits. The results are whimsical, often tongue-in-cheek scenes in which serious-faced folk in frilly, turn-of-the-century clothes carry parasols and ride tigers or take pet birds for "walks" in the sky.
Geertsen's works are on display in "Psychological Sightseeing," an exhibit at Mesa Contemporary Arts. The artist, who grew up in Montana, lets us in on the process behind her peculiar pictures.
Q: What goes into creating one of your photo montages?
A: I have a library of (more than) 20,000 photos. I take objects from my photos and reassemble them into a new image with Photoshop. Sometimes I paint something, take a photo of it and add that in. I paint shadows, lighting and colors using brushes in Photoshop. Some of my images contain hundreds of layers.
Q: Where do you take the photographs used in your artwork?
A: I always have a camera with me. Many of the animals are from the Phoenix Zoo and the World Wildlife Zoo. The main characters in my work are most often from old family photos. I photograph textures as well as objects and characters.
Q: Where do you come up with the ideas for each piece?
A: It never works to consciously begin with an idea. The ideas come to me very gradually and slowly as I am assembling the pictures. Then I add and subtract objects, characters, lighting, shadows and textures to support and develop them. I am attracted to digital art because it is wide open. By combining disparate elements, you can call up a wide range of emotions, experiences and moods. Everyone sees something different in my pictures and (is) attracted to different things about them. I try to make my pictures evocative and quirky.
Q: Do you think your works are dark in any way?
A: They're like life, which is sometimes dark. Psychological predicaments make things interesting. I love a good plight. I always love when my pictures are funny but true.
Q: What do you do when you're not creating new artwork?
A: I think about new pictures and gathering materials for them. I also trail ride my mule in the Arizona backcountry.