Inside this issue
States of Grace
The Sinuous Elegance of Organic Forms
Wendi Schneider is a Denver-based visual artist widely known for her ongoing series of hand-gilded photographs, States of Grace - illuminated impressions of grace in the natural world. Drawn to the serenity she finds in the sinuous elegance of organic forms, she embraces photography to preserve vanishing moments of beauty in our vulnerable environment. Schneider has perfected a gilding process in which her images seemingly dance on the paper’s surface amidst reflections of light on precious metals, creating a synthesis of technique and subject. Born in Memphis, TN, in 1955, Schneider grew up in a family of artists, later earning an AA in Art History from Stephens College and a BA in Painting from Newcomb College at Tulane University. Her interest in photography germinated in the early 1980s with the use of a camera to reference models for oil paintings. Mesmerised by the possibilities of the photographic art form and the alchemy of the darkroom, yet missing the sensuousness of oils, Schneider began to layer oils on photographs to manipulate the boundaries between the real and the imagined. This process laid the groundwork for the unique layering and gilding that would later become the foundation of States of Grace. In 1988, Schneider moved to New York City and began a diverse and successful career that included fine art commissions, photography for magazines, book covers, and advertising, and later (after a move to Denver in 1994) design and art direction. In 2012, she began to produce a collection of photographs featuring flora and fauna – the States of Grace series, which was to become her signature body of work.
My work is rooted in the serenity I find in the sinuous elegance of organic forms. I photograph intuitively, guided by what I feel as much as what I see. Informed by a background in painting and art history, my images are layered digitally with colour and texture to manipulate the boundaries between the real and imagined and are often altered within the edition, honouring the variations. Printed on translucent vellum or kozo, these ethereal impressions are illuminated with white gold, moon gold, silver, or 24k gold on the verso, creating a luminosity that varies as the viewer’s position and ambient light transition. My process infuses the artist’s hand and suffuses the treasured subjects with the implied spirituality and sanctity of the precious metals, echoing the moment of capture and ensuring each print is a unique object of reverence.
How did the project develop?
I did not start out to create a series — it has evolved organically. I simply make work about what I’m drawn to. I now recognise that art and nature have always provided refuge for me. Thinking back to my childhood in Memphis, I often sought solace and solitude beneath the swaying branches of the venerable weeping willow in the far corner of our yard as the light faded, trying to figure out how I fit into this world.