Woman Crush Wednesday: Christy Lee Rogers
Interview by Yanika Anukulpun
Christy Lee Rogers’ OF SMOKE AND GOLD collection encompasses a fuse of symbolic characters; that through their delicate interrelationships, and a touch of life and death, form the basis of a more in-depth perspective into the fragile nature of humanity. In her signature underwater setting of fabric and light, Rogers presents these elaborate yet straightforward scenes to us, which for the artist, cross-cultural and class barriers.
With titles like “Oppressed by Figures of Beauty”, “Grip of the Undertow” and “Lady Mercy” her interweaving of random personas like a cowboy, an African tribesman, human skeleton and more, introduce a motley of ideas set in scenes outside of the bounds of history and geography, which, so released, unleash the notion of endless or circular time. Each figure is one fragment of infinite references to a cultural framework it's trapped inside of, unable to exist outside of, incapable of being alone, nothing on its own - a fragment of the whole.
In one of the pieces “Show me How to be Whole Again,” a mysterious faceless matador seems to be animating a human skeleton swathed in red. The visual conversation is enhanced by her choice of title, and we are left to imagine who is asking the question and why. It’s in the shadows down below that one finds illumination from Rogers’ glimpse at mankind’s most vulnerable points, bringing us back up to the surface with a message of strength. Shot in Hawaii, during the night in local pools, Rogers’ work once again pushes the boundaries of what is possible with a photograph.
The series looks really color focused, how did you select colors for this project?
Because I’m shooting in water, and at night, I wanted colors that would stand out against the black, like reds, oranges, and whites and then mix in blues and browns to fill in those medium tones. My personal tastes, especially in my home, are lots of neutrals with huge splashes of color. The contrast of these colors is what delivers the message to me.
What was your shooting process like?
My shooting is always crazy… yet peaceful. There’s a point, the day after it’s all been shot and I’m resting when I say to myself “that will be my last shoot, I don’t think I can do that again.” I’m pushing up against certain boundaries photographically that really should not be pushed up against and it’s physically and mentally exhausting. And then mix that with water. It’s not supposed to work but somehow I keep moving forward and then there it is. There's a release when I reach that moment. And that’s life right? That’s high and it’s almost like I need that high.
What inspired you to create this project?
I had this thought one day about how we could either drag each other down or pull each other up and about how connected we all were to each other. And it gave birth to these ideas, which transpired over the next year, and the title “Of Smoke and Gold.”
I'm curious... Did you need to research the art history a lot before you started doing this project?
No. I need to let go of all that. Too much thinking… I want to feel them first and for them to have the timelessness; to exist without reference.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach one, one - hour class on anything that would it be?
Doing a water birth at home for my son, no drugs. My family’s still shocked that I could handle that much pain because I’m the one that faints from needles and pain.
What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
The movie is Interstellar. I often think about those concepts of space and time…. and how it’s not all that we think it is.
What is the most played song in your music library?
“Dead Inside” by Muse. I’m crazy about them right now.
How do you take your coffee?
I prefer cold Cappuccinos, lots of almond milk, cinnamon.