Studying Art History And Studio Art

Artist and photographer, Sandy Skoglund spent her childhood traveling the country- her first few years of life is a reflection of the eclectic art she would later go on to create. Even early on in her life, it seemed as if Skoglund had an appreciation for art, studying art history and studio art at Smith College, and later completing her undergraduate studies at. The University of Iowa. Skoglund, throughout her college career, was interested in and studied multimedia art, printmaking, and various other art forms; she even went as far as studying abroad in Paris. All of the hard work, dedication, and passion Skoglund exhibited paid off in 1971 and 1972 when she earned a Masters’s degree in arts and a masters’s degree of fine arts in painting.

The moment after she received her Masters’s degree, Skoglund hit the ground running, immediately diving into the New York art scene; experimenting with different styles and mediums of art, and even teaching herself photography. Just six years later, in 1978, Skoglund was debuting her Food Still Life’s series at the Ryan Lee Gallery. As she was photographing everyday foods and dishes against warped and psychedelic patterns of the 70s, Skoglund made her mark as a colorful, lively, and surrealist artist. One photograph from the 1978 collection that specifically stands out is Peas and Carrots on a Plate. Vibrant green peas and orange carrots are placed meticulously in a pie-like, lattice pattern on a decorative dinner plate. The plate is centered upon an equally busy patterned background, and although it seems as if it should clash, the patterns create a sense of harmony and delightful chaos, somewhat encapsulating the decade of the Seventies itself.

Not long after her Food Still Life’s series, Sandy Skoglund began exploring more modern surrealist properties, working with repetition, color, and deception of the eye. She was able to successfully make sculpted figures appear as if they were two-dimensional in her prints. Skoglund created well around ten archival pigment prints between 1980-1996 surrounding repetitive figures, more often than not, brightly colored animals and creatures, on monochromatic and mundane backgrounds. Though most critics often choose and adore the neon vibrancy of Radioactive Cats (1980), the complimentary colors of Revenge of the Goldfish (fig.2) seem to draw viewers in, with many believing the two colors are meant to symbolize life and death. A figure sits awake in bed, surrounded by a strange amount of table lamps, cluttering a monochromatic, teal room.

Bright orange goldfish swim through the room, lingering on tabletops and in dresser drawers, turning what once was an ordinary scene, into an ocean of mystery. Producing a similar mood, Skoglund’s print Maybe Babies, depicts babies of different violet and periwinkle hues. Gallivanting around the outside walls of a dark, dimly lit house, the figures are seen crawling up walls, laying in the grass, and some dangling upside-down. All of these similar prints juxtaposing bright, and happy colors, with strange, and almost fearful occurrences. The artist herself is quoted to have said, “My work is based on a Frankenstein model where the human beings have created the world that is out of control and turns on them”, perfectly describing the unordinary and out-of-control dreamscape many of her paintings, prints, and photos depict, always leaving an eerie, indescribable mood.

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