By Gail McCarthy
---- — Cape Ann photographer Judy Robinson-Cox transforms ordinary objects into extraordinary images, using everything from raw vegetables that become scenes from the great outdoors to pieces of sushi that become a haven for beach-goers, using the tiniest of figures.
Her art even transforms an onion slice into a skating rink. And she has spent nearly a decade working on her Lilliputian Landscape series, which features miniature figures performing myriad daily tasks of the human race as well as recreation and her subjects touching upon nearly every segment of society.
The diminutive Robinson-Cox received her most recent recognition when she was selected to be the March Artist of the Month at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport. The public is invited to a free reception at the Firehouse today from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
”The show is a culmination of nine years of the Lilliputian Landscape series -- the photographs that combine humor and a sense of the absurd of everyday life and make people notice things around them close-up. You don’t need a degree in art to enjoy these images,” said the award-winning photographer.
The backgrounds of her photographs are diverse, from cabbage leaves to flowers to a pile of coins, all which become the setting for other fantasy images. In her world, even butternut squash can become a construction site.
The Lilliputian Landscapes are photographs of temporary tabletop dioramas that she creates with common objects found around her house.
”By placing tiny plastic figures in the setting, the scene is transformed into a larger reality -- cauliflower becomes a snow covered hill, a peony becomes a dance floor. The images invite the viewer to question what is real or imagined and to closely observe the beauty of larger-than-life natural and man-made objects,” she said. Each photo is created entirely in front of the camera without digital manipulation.
She noted that the Firehouse event is the first time she has been able to show so many different large photos together in one place in this retrospective.
“As long as I can remember I’ve loved to create my own private worlds with toys and miniature figures,” Robinson-Cox said in an artist statement. “Several years ago, a friend gave me a tiny plastic pig, which I decided to photograph as if it were life size by placing it on a ‘hill’ of broccoli. This quickly evolved to more elaborate scenes culminating in a night and day version of a piece called ‘Shipwrecked’ of the little pig stranded on a desert island.”
At a portfolio review in 2006, Leslie Brown, former curator of the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, suggested she carry this idea even further by introducing miniature people and making more fantastic landscapes.
“I concentrate on a new theme or subject each year,” she said. “My first theme was landscapes made of fruit and vegetables, that were populated with tiny figures. Then came sushi, Fiestaware, technology, money, games, bubbles and so on.”
Most recently, she photographed frozen swimmers in ice cubes, created environments from garden flowers and made paradies of famous artists.
”It’s a lot of fun thinking up different environments in which to place the tiny people and I love to hear people chuckle when they look at the photos and realize what they are seeing,” she added.
Robinson-Cox is represented by Square Circle Gallery in Rockport and Chameleon Gallery in Newburyport. She shows regularly at art associations and venues throughout New England. She holds a bachelor of fine arts, cum laude, from the University of Connecticut. She also studied at the Philadelphia College of Art, Montserrat College of Art, and the Griffin Museum’s Photography Atelier program. She is active with Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Art Colony, the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, and the Rockport, Newburyport and Cambridge Art associations.
The Firehouse Center for the Arts is located in downtown Newburyport. See http://www.firehouse.org/L2-venue.html for directions. The exhibition is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (with extended hours on performance days). The show runs through March 31.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.