For many years, Linda Murphy Robbennolt has been working with the combination of painting and photography, reality and illusion, dimension and flatness, humor and sorrow, and other seemingly polar concepts. Finding very little distinction between these extremes, she uses her work to explore these boundaries.
Working with 20x24” Polaroid’s, Robbennolt paints backdrops reminiscent of American naive paintings, in which openings have been made for actual human hands, fingers and faces to appear in the manner of carnival portrait props. While it is not difficult to determine what is painted and what is real in these images, there is a blending of forms that makes the photographs illusionist in nature. The artist first works out each idea in isolation, planning the image and painting the backdrop to a scale appropriate to the body parts that ultimately become a part of the photograph. Robbennolt creates tension through the contrast between the three-dimensional human forms and the flat, painted cardboard, as well as through the viewer’s discomfort with “severed” body parts. She accentuates the photographic and conceptual nature of her work by allowing the texture of the cardboard to show through the paint, and by having the corrugations visible in some of the cutout sections. After assembling a group of friends as “models”, the photographs are made in the midst of a rather chaotic environment very different from the solitude in which the templates are created.
This exhibition displays works by an Illinois photographer included in The Midwest Photographers Project.