Erin O’Malley

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Erin O’Malley, Photographer

Artist’s Statement

With digital macro photography I have been exploring the interaction of light with transparent and reflective surfaces. I consider my photography a series of experiments, a process of trial and error that builds upon past successes through the manipulation of variables. The staged environments I create are based upon light, perspective, and materials. In addition to reflective found objects and dynamic lighting systems, my staging generally involves glass, plastic, liquid or resin. The use of found objects explores the aesthetic potential and unique optical qualities of synthetic materials. Techniques such as cross-polarization, long exposures, increased magnification and optical filters give me a constantly shifting approach to abstract image-making.

Cameras enhance our ability to see and often surpass the potential of the naked eye. This technological extension of sight allows me to manipulate and record latent intricacies of the micro-world, specifically small-scale light behavior. By sharing my vision I hope to inspire intrigue into the patterns and connections that stretch beyond unaided perception and to incite reflection on the nature of the one that binds us all, light.

Aleathia Drehmer: When did you first start to have a keen interest in art in which you thought it might be your life’s direction?

Erin O’Malley: I’ve been drawn towards art since a very young age, but have also had a wide range of interests- athletics, literature and science to name a few. Only in the last few years have I felt that I was finding my niche. Going to college helped with that, because I was able to explore a bunch of different subjects before ending up in visual arts

AD: Are there any experiences in life that have directly shaped the way you capture the world through your art medium?

EO: Most definitely, I think art for me is a way to ground myself. Some of my experiences are very nebulous and intangible- they defy explanation and spur an unshakable feeling that there is significance here, within the mundane. My artistic approach is an attempt to give those memories a solid footing.

AD: What artist is your biggest influence and are there any educators who pushed you further in your craft and changed your perspective?

EO: I’m struggling to cite just one overarching influence, lately I have been very inspired by the work of Olafur Eliasson, and in the past have been massively influenced by Latvian artist Gints Gabrans, specifically his “Bloodlight” series.

My mentor Arthur Skinner is the one who turned me on to experimental photography, starting with pinhole and branching from there. I wouldn’t say he changed my perspective as much as pushing me to flesh out an already existing one.

AD: Your work is full of great light, reflection, and shimmering colors. Are there any specific processes you use to achieve this? What is your favorite camera to work with?

EO: I couldn’t speak specifically, for I have probably tried a different method for each photo you’ve seen, but the biggest aspect is a strong light source. The stronger the light the more shimmering and bright the colors and textures can become. My favorite camera is really my only camera, the Nikon D3200, although I also love building pinhole cameras.

AD: What upcoming projects do you have in the works? Any gallery shows?

EO: I’ve actually been working on a few videography projects. As of now I don’t have any solo gallery shows lined up for the near future, but I have my work in a few shows that are currently up, notably the ‘Cosmos’ exhibition at the New York Hall of Science.

Erin O’Malley