For more than twenty years, artist Lorna Bieber has made the world of reproduced photographic images the subject of her work. Trained as a painter, she became interested in the photographic image as subject while working in the art department and then as a photo editor for large-circulation magazines in the late 1980s.
Bieber subsequently developed a working method in which she photocopies stock images and then enlarges, reduces, and paints and/or draws on them until they become thoroughly her own. In her earliest works of this type, Bieber photographed the results and presented them as individual large-scale gelatin silver prints or as grids of 11x14-inch prints that form monumental panels. Her later work consists of the photocopies themselves mounted onto panels and arranged into enormous grids.
Bieber’s earlier work consisted primarily of natural elements—trees, animals, flowers—but recently, she has addressed more figurative, allegorical, and art historical subjects. Whatever the subject, the elements of her compositions stand for the generic category to which they belong; they are each genus rather than species. Bieber’s work implies that these image “genera” derive from the photographic universe and saturate our mental landscape.
Fabrications, organized by the George Eastman Museum, includes her newest piece, Tapestry (2015), which is printed on canvas, as well as other recent works. The minimal nature of Bieber’s aesthetic—palette reduced to black and white, forms restricted to existing imagery—resolves into a rich visual experience in which nature and artifice confound our perceptual habits and enliven our pleasure in seeing.