The Los Angeles Art Association is packed with great exhibits through November 20th, a great reason to head up to the gallery’s West Hollywood location this fall. One of the shows currently presented is Lori Pond’s Menace.
The show is a riveting collection of photographs that depict darkened, wild animals that frighten and compel at the same time. These images are actually taxidermied creatures, photographed in sunny shops, manipulated by the artist to manifest images that could terrify – except they really can’t.
It’s the duality of these images, from cape bufalo to bear, opossum to wolf to bird, that is so riveting: why do they frighten us? Are they impotent or do they still contain the potential to terrify, if only in our minds. This is the first solo show that presents this particular body of Pond’s work. Another series of Menace images recently debuted in Philadelphia.
According to Pond, “There are different pieces in this show than there were back east. There are some new ones which I did after the Philadelphia show. I found a taxidermy shop there in April and took some new shots – two of them went into the show.”
There are other differences in the current exhibition here on the West Coast as well. “The Philadelphia show was held in a university gallery. That was a completely different audience. Here I was also able to display the images as they should be displayed, against black walls. I commission a friend to make an underscore that provides an almost subliminal musical message,” the artist reports.
Feeling menaced? Or seeking out a little Halloween-time primal fear? These instinctually harrowing photographs can be found at 825 La Cienega in West Hollywood.
Photographer Lori Pond uses her art to blur the lines between perceived reality and her dreams. Long accustomed to vivid dreams, and questioning the parameters of the real world since childhood, Pond uses both the camera itself and her post-processing tools to paint a full range of images and emotions through color, light, movement, and texture.
In October, just in time to greet the boogeymen of Halloween, Pond will be exhibiting a solo show at the Los Angeles Art Association based on her series, “Menace.” This series vividly depicts images of things we fear – or think we do. These are velvety, dark, and ferocious photographs of wild animals that trigger gut-instinctive responses of fear. In these photographs are shadowed images designed to heighten the fight or flight reflex of viewers’ subconscious minds, instinctive reactions that we share, that make hearts race, even as we are viewing these images in a safe space.
Raven, tiger, boar, bear – the eyes of these creatures stare intently and wildly out from clumps of voluptuously close fur, causing our ancient instinct to run. Try holding the gaze of any of these creatures and feel the power shift between viewer and subject, with the subject winning. But before viewers hurry on, the astute observer will notice the real point of these rich, noir photographs. This point isn’t to confront viewers with their fears. Instead, Pond is posing a challenge, manipulating viewers to take one look at these frightening, shadowy creatures, and then to look again. What is truly menacing is in the viewers’ minds. These animals are taxidermied, a danger to neither the artist or the viewer of her art. The images were taken in bright shops, altered through the artist’s craft to demonstrate a ferocity that doesn’t exist. In short, Pond tells viewers that fear itself may be false and unjustified. Perhaps, along with ingrained and visceral responses to these animals, the 21st century has also brought us fears that are merely imaginary, or created by others.
Beautifully rendered, these fearsome images are impressive in their own startlingly heart-thumping right. The context of these photographs, that fear itself may be mostly imagination, adds depth and weight to the carefully detailed and beautifully lit images. Every bird feather, every bristling bit of animal fur is perfectly rendered. Truly the stuff of dark dreams, dreams which break apart when confronted with daylight, yet linger in the psyche throughout the day in fragments created by our own primal instincts.
To print “Menace” and her other photographic series, Pond uses Epson Ultrachrome archival pigments on matte rag papers, which adds to the deeply detailed and dream-like quality of her subjects.
A Southern California native, Pond has worked as a graphic designer and operator for live television productions including the Academy Awards, the Emmys, and Grammys, as well as for Conan O’Brien. Her photographic art has shifted through the years from street and documentary images to macro studies of the natural world in her series “The Intimate Universe.” Her highly emotional and autobiographical “Divorce” series chronicles the impact of divorce after twenty years of marriage. Using the wet plate collodion process, Pond has also created tintype portraits in her series “Strange Paradise.”
Pond has won awards for her nationally and internationally exhibited work, and has been published online and in magazines, as well as in two books of her photography, “Lori Pond – Self,” and “Arboreal.” Her photos are a part of the permanent collections of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colo., the Center for the Arts in Los Angeles, and at the New York headquarters of Morgan Stanley.
Her recent exhibits include a solo show at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, “Nothing in the Entire Universe is Hidden.” She’s also taken part in the Artist Alliance at the Museum 2015 in Oceanside, Calif., and the 2nd Annual LACP Members’ Exhibition in Los Angeles. The artist is a member of APA, the Art Directors Guild, and the Los Angeles Art Association, among other arts organizations.