Animalia: Anna Tomczak at Maitland Art Center

Large-scale Polaroid transfers by the local photographer are otherworldly assemblages of fauna and flora

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A small but significant exhibition opens Friday at Maitland's Art & History Museums. Taking over Gallery 4 (Galleries 1-3 are still showing James Casey's Equine Sculpture show) is Anna Tomczak's Animalia, a group of large-format Polaroid transfers. Conflating photography, painting and collage, Tomczak's highly manipulated images portray still-life tableaux of found objects; they're a unique fusion of technology and the handmade, sharing a mysterious emotional quality with home prayer shrines or the boxes of Joseph Cornell.

Tomczak's mystical images betray impressive technique – technique that she's honed for decades. Tomczak shoots with a large-format Polaroid, which creates emulsion negatives 20 inches by 24 inches; only five of these cameras were built, and it's an honor and a challenge to be able to use one. After arranging and lighting her subject(s), Tomczak exposes the Polaroid film, then peels it open and presses the emulsion side onto a different surface – usually watercolor paper – and uses a variety of solvents and tools to transfer and alter the image. The result is dreamlike, enigmatic, painterly.

The opening of Animalia at Maitland Art Center coincides with the A&H's monthly Culture & Cocktails party, this month featuring the paintings of Victor Bokas. Tomczak also leads a workshop 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 10, teaching students techniques of image layering and transfer using materials as wide-ranging as typewriters, beeswax, wintergreen oil, canvas and rubber stamps.


opening 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8
through March 10
Maitland Art Center
231 W. Packwood Ave., Maitland

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