Friday, April 06, 2012

Dornith Doherty

SunflowersDigital Chromogenic Lenticular Photograph29 x 48 inches
My art review repost for a show in December 2011

Dornith Doherty is making mythical, scientific, visually imaginative, and intellectually stimulating digital chromogenic lenticular photographs. Her work, exhibited at Holly Johnson Gallery, gives back to the viewer so much more than just the surface image.

Dornith Doherty’s work is about photography in the way the medium is used to explore an object in a very technical manner. The images in the show are shots of x-rayed seeds. The process and technique really shine through in these works. I see most photography as plot driven. Doherty follows this tradition through the story of a particular collection of seeds and about their storage to keep our food supply and other botanicals biologically diverse. Doherty traveled to these Banks that collect and store seeds, where she collected portraits of individual little pre-plants. She finally displays them like a science museum might store specimens in a drawer, only hers are on the wall. In the work “Millennium Seed Bank Research Seedlings and Lochner-Stuppy Test Garden,” she created multiple sized rectangles which are collaged in a grid. The white objects seem to glow brightly against the very dark blue background.

Doherty’s work is about display of knowledge shrouded in mystery. Associate curator of Ringling Museum of Art, Joanna Weber compared her work to Joseph Cornell’s shadow box works. Both are taking science as inspiration for images as Weber points out, but Doherty is about the present. Unlike Cornell, I think Doherty is directly involved in the process of recording and documenting these seeds, but her presentation mimics a scientific arrangement without the overload of data. The work titled “Poppy” completely fooled me of its identity. I found myself saying,” wait, I thought this was a show about seeds, so why is a sand dollar on display”. But the x-ray of a poppy and as and dollar look remarkably similar. Just by probing inside the seeds with scientific equipment she opened a whole new world of visual experience.

The individual or grouping of spouts also captured my attention. These early moments of a plants life look so ghostly pale under the x-ray, but the very stark white background seems to punch this spiritual effect quite effectively. Once again, display becomes a key factor in these works. Doherty arranges the objects to maximize their effect on your attention. Some are displayed into patterns,
yet others feel dropped and capture in a moment in time. I highly recommend this photography show that is much more than photographs. Find yourself over at Holly Johnson Gallery before December 23rd.

For more pictures from the show go to

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