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Phyllis Meredith

Human Nature

  • Medium of Choice: Medium Format Film Photography
  • Lives in: West Hartford, Connecticut
  • Painting since: 1985
  • Art icon: Sally Mann
  • Favorite Brands: Microcord Camera/ Ilford Film

In a technology dominated age, the idea of “media free” has become more and more attractive to many artists. Whether it is in the search of a spiritual connection or a break from a day overloaded with technology, there is a growing trend in making an effort to connect with nature. In her photographs, Phyllis Meredith would like to take this idea one step further and remind us that humans indeed are nature themselves.

"...humans indeed are nature themselves"

In these portraits, Phyllis addresses the idea that a search for a connection with nature still implies a distinct separation between people and nature. She suggests, through the process of double exposure portraiture, the concept that we as humans are just as much a part of nature as the flower, bush or tree . The process of making these images is slow. Using a film camera from the 1950’s called a Microcord TLR, Phyllis takes an underexposed portrait of her subject in front of a white backdrop. Without advancing the film, she then reopens the shutter to take another underexposed image of vegetation. The two images can be taken one right after the other, or hours or days can go by while she searches for the perfect nature to layer over the subject. This can be done only 12 times per roll, and she does not see the images until the film has been processed. Each image is hand printed from the negative in the darkroom.

"Phyllis needs little inspiration more than her camera and the time outdoors..."

Phyllis needs little inspiration more than her camera and the time outdoors to create her portraits. She is working on two personal projects, HumanNature as seen here, and NaturesDaughters where she is working to photograph woman and girls fully engaged in the nature around them. She allows her subject to immerse themselves in their surroundings as much as they would like, whether it be standing among leaves, or covering themselves with mud, until they reach a point where they are comfortable as nature. The subjects, therefore set the tone for the entire shoot.

Phyllis reminds us that nature is powerful and everywhere. In the forest, the wild flower meadow, and in the rushing of a river, but also in the tiny shoots pushing through the cracks in the sidewalk or in cultivated city parks. She believes that the intrinsic nature of humanity is drawn to nature, and these abstractions of the human/nature connection have a universal appeal.