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Homage to Pronkstilleven: Gallery


(“ostentatious still life”)

“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.” Winnie-the-Pooh

This series of photographs is a homage to the female Dutch 17th-century still-life painter, Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750). She was one of the few documented successful painters, who used insects to populate her still life and help guide the viewer to look at her colorful flowers. This series uses sunflowers, roses, irises, carnations, and lilies. Instead of insects, I used a rat. The rats help tighten the composition and are symbolic like the insects, showing the transition of life. They surprise and delight the viewer, once they find them.

The flowers represent wealth and are photographed in various stages of life. Ruysch was part of the rococo movement, which presented the ornamental elements of still life. Showing the arrangement of flowers and insects shows the value of life, pleasure, and death.

My photographs reveal a different element of working with these animals. This series uses the rat as part of the still-life and is not the main focus. They are used as a symbol. However, unlike an insect that can be placed by one person in a spot in the composition, I had help from my daughter, Esther, who is a trainer to place and pose the rats for each image. The process is elaborate, needing to find flowers, and  find vases, setting them up, setting up the lights, positioning the camera, and then positioning the rat. I used a Winnie the Pooh quote as a connection between the past and present, that still life has much to be discovered and experienced.

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Homage to Pronkstilleven: Text
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