Kim Kauffman

Woodstock Times -October 21, 2010
Smart Art by Paul Smart

Kauffman's Florilegium

Kim Kauffman, the Michigan-based photographer whose show of fine art floral works opens at Galerie BMG on Tannery Brook this Saturday, October 23, has a thing for exquisite namings. She's calling her new photographic series, created from a wide variety of disparate natural parts via a unique new photo-collage process, Florilegium. The word means "a gathering of flowers" and references the books of voluptuous flower paintings that proliferated, particularly in Holland and Flanders, in the 1600s and 1700s. She's named the fine art segment of her life (Kauffman also runs a successful commercial photographic business) Synecdoche, "a figure of speech by which the part is put for the whole, or the whole for a part, the special for the general, or the general for the special," as she puts it. And not the recent Charlie Kaufman film.

"My images are fundamentally about form and revealing the visual eloquence that I see in all things. This eloquence is often expressed in the details and abstractions of the object. For this reason I have taken the name Synecdoche Studio because it characterizes my work so perfectly - taking the part to represent the whole, finding the special in the ordinary," she writes of what drives her. "Forms manifest in the resonance of a curve, the rhythm of a pattern, the dichotomy of light and shadow. They abound everywhere in nature: the twist of a leaf, the overlap of feathers on a bird's wing, the symmetry of an unfurling flower. We emulate them in our human creations: the arch of a cathedral, the weave of a textile. These innate forms, abstractions from the larger world, connect with us at a basic level and help us to organize and understand our world."

The new works have a similarity to the scanned floral mandalas that locally-based artist Portia Munson has been creating in recent years, albeit in a tighter, more classically pretty fashion without the veneer of conception (and sheer size) punching the work to other levels. There's more digital manipulation going on, a different eye for detail.

"This ongoing body of work explores the cameraless and filmless image technique that I have been working with since 1998," she has written, while referring back to a body of photographic art stretching back into the 1840s. "My photography series titled Florilegium has evolved along with my growth as a gardener. Gardens are an easily accessible way for any person to re-connect every day with the natural world, to be comforted by our place in it and to grow respectful of it. I use flowers, plants and seedpods as subject matter for my photographs in the hope of sharing my experience of this essential connection. I observe plants as they grow and bring them to my studio when they've reached a stage that interests me. Many are past their prime but speak to me precisely for that reason - they possess a subtle beauty that flowers and foliage in full bloom do not...As I observe the plants changing I am presented with new opportunities."

In addition to having been the recipient of numerous shows throughout her native Midwest, and inclusion in most of that region's major art collections, Kauffman's work has been featured in various publications, and has won numerous national awards.

"Art can provoke or it can soothe the viewer. My hope is that Florilegium will do both," she says of what drives her. "I wish for these photographs to provide respite for the viewer, to help to create balance in lives that are often too hectic and disconnected from the natural world. If these images can help the viewer appreciate the beauty, complexity and mystery of the plant world, so much the better. Perhaps that person then will be impelled to understand and treasure the natural world."

What better exhibition to carry us all through this falling autumn, when so much of what we treasure loses its color and our vision recalibrates to more distant, colder vistas.++

Times Herald Record -October 25, 2010
by Timothy Malcolm

Kim Kauffman's photographic series "Florilegium" has shown in numerous places across the country: Muskegon, Mich.; Huron, Ohio; Cary, N.C.; and Pittsburg, Kan. Now it's coming northeast, to Woodstock, as Galerie BMG is showing the work of Kauffman starting Friday.

"Florilegium" means "a gathering of flowers." By traditional definition, a florilegium was an example of European flower books dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. They documented flowers as collected and observed in nature - one of the many ways showing the human fascination with flowers as artistic subjects and emotional launching pads. What Kauffman does with "Florilegium" is combine layers of collected flowers to show the little things you may miss the first time you glance at a flower.

How does she do it? Not with a camera!

According to Kauffman, she implements a style of image-capturing called "scannography," in which she takes the collected subject and records the image through a flatbed scanner. She does this multiple times, sometimes with the same subject. Then she layers the images, creating something like a photo collage. The light generated from the scanner is different from regular light, as it artificially covers the entire field. Thus, the images in "Florilegium" can be near heavenly, with light glowing from behind every perfect curve and elegant line.

"It's just beautiful," said Bernard Gerson, owner of Galerie BMG. "Once you look at the imagery, it's three-dimensional," he added, before saying he couldn't wait to hang the art. "We don't show that much color (in past exhibits), but this is supersaturated color."

In the end, according to a statement, Kaufman hopes to "help the viewer appreciate the beauty, complexity and mystery of the plant world."