Mary K. Shisler

Neighborhood: Fort Mason
Group Affiliation: Pier 2, Fort Mason

Art Statement - Mary K. Shisler​

I find inspiration in the beauty of natural objects and landscape. My influences are the work of Anna Atkins, Karl Blossfeldt, the carpe diem traditions of Dutch Still Life, the traditions of Wabi sabi and traditions of botanical illustration.

Anna Atkins created the first book illustrated with photographic images, PHOTOGRAPHS OF BRITISH ALGAE: CYANOTYPE IMPRESSIONS. Her beautiful blue prints have inspired many of us to work with cyanotype. Over the years I have created a number of series in cyanotype as well as gum and Van Dyke prints. I enjoy the way light plays over objects when I work with cyanotype photograms. Atkins stated that her main goal was to make a contribution to botany. She did that and so much more.

Karl Blossfeldt’s close up close up images of plants, published in 1929 as URFORMEN DER KUNST, have always inspired me. The manner in which he composed emphasizes the shape and form of the plant bringing drama to every curve and line. I find these inform me as I compose my images. I also like the way he totally simplified the backdrop.

Carpe diem and Wabi sabi serve the issue of time. Carpe diem means “seize the day”. The short life span of flowers and leaves generates a sense of immediacy. Their beauty is fleeting. I often select specimens that lack perfection and show the effects of aging, i.e. time. Wabi sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Under this influence I look for the beauty in imperfection, impermanence, and lack of completion.

My focus has remained on this work for many years with total fascination. When the digital revolution came, I reached an impasse. . . how to continue and utilize the new possibilities. I created my own form of photography with digital information.

I found the black background dramatizes the image. The many years I spend in the photographic darkroom trained me to see images form in the dark. Another reason I like the black backgrounds.