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Cause & Effect Mental Contagion
Art • Environment • Interview

Gregory Scott Evanston, IL
Interviewed by Dean Pajevic | Website | Upcoming Shows

About the photographer
Gregory Scott's paintings and photographs seem conjured out of the fire and smoke of imagination. These playful and thoughtful images catch you; they make you look. And then you look again. Gregory states, "What really drives my creative process ... is the desire to evoke intriguing emotional narratives within beautiful photographs. The work explores humor, play, desire, loneliness, and melancholy."

"I am a painter and a photographer. My early paintings were often based on my photographs. So, the two mediums have always been connected for me. The goal is to bring a sense of honesty to the finished piece and avoid the realm of digitally manipulated images as well as the over-produced sterility of commercial studio shoots."

DP: Your pieces seem the definition of Cause and Effect: The scene seems to cause this one painted image to bubble up within it. Do you have a concept and then try and find a place that matches it, or do you let your eye and imagination roam until you see something that strikes you and makes you stop and paint?

GS: Actually, I've employed both methods of working. Sometimes I come across a classically photogenic scene and create a painting that interacts with that scene. Sometimes I have an idea for a painting or a finished photo and work to find an environment that works with the idea.

Bound. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery. © 2005.

DP: Do you create the paintings out where you have taken the photos?

GS: Yes, but not always. One approach I use often is to paint the figure portion of the painting in advance and fill in the background on site so that it matches the actual environment. This allows me to spend more time on the painting in my studio where conditions are better for painting and leaves me less to do on site when I make the photo.

Age of Spontaneity
Age of Spontaneity. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery. © 2003 2004.

DP: You state that you want to "evoke intriguing emotional narratives within beautiful photographs." Can you talk more about how this works for you?

GS: There is a divide, it seems to me, between conceptual photography and beauty photography. The beautiful images I come across rarely have content or concept, and conceptual work tends to be consciously bland visually, as if the creator thought that capturing beauty would somehow negate the work's intelligence. I see no reason why work can't be smart and beautiful. In terms of being "smart," I want my work to have something to say. And I want it to communicate and have meaning for everyone, not just the art elite.

DP: Your images play with the human body weaving in and out of nature. How do you see humans and the natural world? Are we still part of it? Or, are we by nature of our intellects, always outside, always commenting on it?

GS: I would say that our intellect tricks us into thinking we're outside of the natural world. Humans are animals, after all, and we have a primal connection to nature. Even though it's much more challenging, I prefer to shoot outdoors, because nature provides such interesting settings for images.

Aviator. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery. © 2003 2004.

DP: You have images of trees morphing into people and hands with birds wings on them. There is a surrealistic or poetic edge to many of these images. Can you talk more about this visual poetry?

GS: The surrealism certainly comes from the "what if?" portion of my brain. What if arms and legs became branches? What if we could fly? That's a simplistic way to describe my thinking. To dig a little deeper, I'm tying human ways-of-being to animal and plant ways-of-being. We often anthropomorphize the natural world, and this part of my work explores that (imagined?) kinship we have with various plants and animals and the emotional states they reflect to us

Homage. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery. © 2003 2004.

DP: For the setting of a piece, if you could have access to one place that you could usually never have access to, where would that be? Why?

GS: Up high. I'd like to make some pieces shooting straight down from 30 feet up. Or at eye level with the top of a tree. It would be great to position myself and my equipment anywhere in three dimensional space, rather than the usual constraint of 6 ft or less from the ground. More realistically, I'd like to get into new spaces to shoot. People's houses, factories, museums.

Shelter. Courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery. © 2003 2004.

Upcoming Shows 2006

April 28 - May 1

July 14 - September 2
Under the Influence: Group show at Catherine Edelman Gallery.

©2006 Mental Contagion • Making Space for Visual Artists & Writers