SAM THE BUTCHER contemporary art

Artist Statement


Aaron Brown PortraitMariah Hess is an artist currently living in Davis, California.  She grew up outside of Iowa City, Iowa, and in 2003 received her BA in studio art from the University of Northern Iowa.  In 2007, she received her MFA from the University of California, Davis, where she was the recipient of the Mary Lou Osborne Fellowship.

What is a photograph? 
Photography is defined as “the process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface”.  With advancing technology, photographs can be beautifully produced using printers, so the need for light sensitive paper has been removed and with it part of the traditional chemical photographic process. In my work, I explore this element of photography that may soon be obsolete. Without ever using a camera, I make “negatives” by finding translucent materials and exposing them to light sensitive paper. The end results are paintings of color on photographic paper created by light that question the definition of a photograph.

Magazine Collection (Slide show 1-12)
As a society, we are constantly bombarded by images. From billboards, magazines and television commercials, images are so ubiquitous that we no longer pay attention. Often the images are heavily manipulated, whether it’s to change the size of a woman’s eyes or to brighten the colors of a painting. My work invites the viewer to reevaluate what they see and realize how images can be rearranged, reproduced and manipulated. Small 4" x 5” clippings from a single magazine page are used as a negative. Light passing through the clipping illuminates not only the image on the front side, but also the back and the two merge onto the surface of the photographic paper. The clipping can be unaltered and printed and exists as a record of a found object or it can be further manipulated and pushed so far that any similarity to the original image is completely lost. So, while floating through a sea of images in my cameraless photographs, the viewer can get lost among the images of a single magazine page.

Plant Collection (Slide show 13-21)
In the Plant Collection, I create photographs without the use of a camera. I dissect and arrange plant materials on a transparency that are magnified through an enlarger and projected onto photographic paper. As a way of examining the world right outside my window, I choose materials from within steps of my front door - from a rose hip next to my driveway to one of the many dandelion leaves growing through the cracks in my sidewalk. By intensifying each detail, the photographs provide a glimpse of what the plants looks like when light touches a leaf or a petal.