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Fractured: Mini Interviews | Meg Griffiths and Virgil DiBiase

photo-eye Gallery Fractured: Mini Interviews Meg Griffiths and Virgil DiBiase In week 8 of our mini-interview series, we talk to Meg Griffiths and Virgil DiBiase. In their unique practice, these artists examine perception itself — our sensing and making sense of the world — and question our fractured experience of reality.

Exhibition view of Fractured

In week 8 of our mini-interview series, we talk to Meg Griffiths and Virgil DiBiase. In their unique practice, these artists examine perception itself — our sensing and making sense of the world — and question our fractured experience of reality.

Meg Griffiths conceptual still lives direct our gaze to those liminal spaces where light and matter fall apart to create something new. In each carefully constructed photograph, she captures the sublime in the ephemerality of life — her work invites us to embrace the uncertainty of a moment and let it transform us.

Virgil DiBiase’s series Dementia Portraits and Perception examines how our perception of time and space is fractured under extenuating circumstances, such as a debilitating illness like dementia. His exquisite platinum prints are “perfect metaphors” for a fragmented state of mind and questions what constitutes memory, and if it can even be fixed in time or kept intact.



Meg Griffiths, A Soft Unconscious Mourning, 2018, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 10, framed, $1380

What is your process like?
The two pieces selected for the show from my ongoing series Somewhere within and without are all about process, both external and internal. Just as Baruch Spinoza, the 17th Century Dutch philosopher, states, "an individual is a process" so too is the making of these still lives in my small studio here in Denton, Texas. The images I construct work to subtly shift and deconstruct the ways in which we engage with space, time and perception. They are means of working through uncertainty into understanding. The inspiration for these images is particular to each one and based upon personal experiences, or ways of seeing and sensing the world. I also do a fair amount of research and writing, on subjects such as philosophy, physics, beauty, and the ephemeral meaning of what it means to be alive. I feel all of it is synthesized through me and comes to converge into a small square box 
the image really being a mark of that distillation.

Meg Griffiths, Sieve of the Universe, 2017, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 10, framed, $1380

What inspired this image? 
"Sieve of the Universe" was one of the first images I made in the series. It is what really set me on the path to making the way that I have been for the past few years and will continue to make.  I think the title sums up, in a way, what the entire series alludes to.

Can you share an interesting story about your subject matter or the making of your images?
When people ask me about "Sieve of the Universe" they ask one of two things, the first being, "is this image upside down?" and the second, "what is that white powder?" I Iove questions and often find that the most interesting thoughts and responses can arise from such prompts. 

When asked, I do not so much answer the first question, for I feel the question is actually rhetorical in a way. But sometimes I like to just share a quote, such as this lovely one by Magritte, who said, "the deepest mysteries lie in the things that are conventionally familiar, including our own thinking." And then, possibly, respond with a few questions of my own. Why be so coy? Well, for one, it is more fun, and, further, I find a conversation starter much more interesting than a conversation ender. In a way, all conversations surrounding this question can be been traced back to how the question speaks to our desire for order, certainty, and knowing. There is a thirst to know the "real" way or the "right" way. There is an up, there is a down. Knowing this makes us comfortable. Not knowing creates discomfort. Why? Well, mainly because uncertainty is not something we like as humans. So I love questions like this, for the image is most definitely meant to make you question, to make you feel something, to make you look at who you are and reflect upon that as much as what I have tried to express. That is my hope anyway. 

The answer to the second question is definitively flour.  I like common household objects and conventional or domestic substances that ground you in the familiar, but I enjoy using them in ways that are unfamiliar. Allowing them to function differently, as metaphors, symbols, surrogates for something other than what their creators intended them for. A ball of red yarn is factually a ball of red yarn, but it also alludes to space and time and how those two things curve. In some of my images, things are more fixed, in others, however, they are not what they seem. I like this dialectic when moving through the meaning of one image to the next. There is a metaphor for life in there somewhere I know it, just need to spend a bit more time working through that.

Meg Griffiths was born in Bloomington, Indiana and raised in Houston, Texas. She received two B.A.’s at the University of Texas in Cultural Anthropology and English Literature and earned her Master of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design in Photography. She currently lives in Denton, Texas and is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Texas Woman's University. She was awarded 2nd place prize at PhotoNola in 2019 for her series Somewhere within and without. She was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Best Fine Art Series in 2017, honored as One's to Watch in 2015 at Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and PDN 30 Photographers to Watch in 2012. Her books and works have been shown and collected nationally and internationally.


Virgil DiBiase, 1000 Pieces, 2019, platinum/palladium print, 8 x 10 inches, edition of 5, unframed, $500

What is your process like?
I shoot with a full format digital camera. I then make digital negatives for contact printing with the platinum palladium process. I coat a PtPd solution on to 100% rag paper, let it dry, place the digital negative onto the paper and expose it to ultraviolet light. Then develop and wash it.

What inspired these images? 
The photo with the puzzle, that’s my mother-in-law, who lived with my wife and I for five years, until she recently passed in September 2019. She was quick at putting together puzzles, so my wife dared her to try a 1000 piece puzzle. I had just bought a Lomo pancake lens and this was the first time I got to use it.  I shot 7 photos of her with the puzzle before she waved me off. We got along fine, but she was feisty. She was on her cellphone talking to her son for the first 5 images, the 7th was the one. She didn’t finish the puzzle because she couldn’t find the 4th corner piece… she would start with the corner pieces. When I showed her the photo she said: “what do you see in that?”

Virgil DiBiase, behind the scene of 1000 pieces, 2019
I’ve been working and continue to work on a project concerning dementia, portraits and perceptions. My mother-in-law did not have dementia though the photograph is a document and a metaphor. I didn’t realize it at the time I shot it, but instinctually I did.

Virgil DiBiase, Blind, 2019, platinum/palladium print, 8 x 10 inches, edition of 5, unframed, $500

The picture with the snow: In January 2019, my wife and I were walking in the woods during heavy snow. I had my small camera with a built-in-flash and thought it could be a good picture. I took four shots. Several weeks later, I looked through my files and was thinking about what my patient had said to me that day. She had Alzheimer’s disease and said “when you look at me and question me, I go blind.” I looked at the file with the snowflake blocking my wife’s face and there it was. A perfect metaphor.

Virgil DiBiase, behind the scene of Blind, 2019

Virgil DiBiase lives in rural Indiana with his wife and two donkeys. He is a full-time clinical neurologist, photographer, and part-time farmhand. He has exhibited his work in many juried group shows including Griffin Museum of Photography, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Edition One Gallery, Soho Photo Gallery and Providence Center for Photographic Arts. He’s been published in B&W magazine, LFI Magazine, Burn Magazine, The Cresset, and recently PBS News hour, Brief but Spectacular. He’s had solo shows at the Rangefinder Gallery in Chicago, Strimbu Gallery at Valparaiso University and the Workspace Gallery in Lincoln Nebraska. He’s been short-listed three times for the Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition and has been a Critical Mass Finalist for the last 3 years. His work is in the permanent collection of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

Stay tuned for next's week post, where we'll talk to Charles Anselmo and William Lesch

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

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