Creating and capturing art with a camera wasn’t Erica Wagner’s first form of artistic expression.
But it is how she was selected to be the cover artist for Moscow Artwalk 2018; Wagner’s photographic work will be featured at the Third Street Gallery in city hall during the event. Before you check out her photographs, here’s a bit more about Wagner and her artistic process:
Artistic background: Wagner always took art classes growing up and her mom worked as a docent for various art museums. “It’s always been part of my life,” Wagner said. She changed majors a few times in college but finally landed on getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mixed Media from Arizona State University, Tempe, near her home in Phoenix. “It was the path that made the most sense for my interests.”
Artistic career: School didn’t lead to art-related work for a long time. Wagner worked for nonprofit organizations for a while before moving to Moscow in 2011, where she took a job as the Moscow Farmers Market manager for a season before becoming the marketing manager for the Moscow Food Co-op. Wagner now works in graphic design at Appearances Marketing and Promotion in Moscow, doing her own art on the side.
Photographic beginnings: Wagner only started taking photos when her job at the Moscow Food Co-op required it. “I had never picked up a real camera before. So I had to learn from scratch,” Wagner said. Because of her art training, creating a composition came naturally and the idea of using a photo to tell a story about food or farmers sparked her interest in learning and using the medium.
On why everyone is photographing food these days: Wagner’s photographs take more than a shift of a fork and a click of a camera. Though she doesn’t do much herself, “I understand why instant food photography has taken off, it’s the memory of the food that people want to capture,” Wagner said. “Food is what connects us, it’s common to all of us.”
On creating a photographic piece: When composing her tablescapes, whether food or flowers, Wagner starts with a blank canvas of whatever background she’s selected for the piece. Props are set to the side and she begins placing items, photographing as she goes to see what it looks like and what adjustments should be made. A shoot can take anywhere from an hour to a whole day, depending on any cooking that needs to be done, gathering more items for the composition or even just stepping away for a bit to get fresh perspective.
On the Moscow Artwalk 2018 cover art: The piece, featuring painted kale, is part of a pop-art style series that explores what happens to food items when they’re painted a different color, arranged in a pattern and photographed in harsher light. By painting kale, blood oranges and cabbage in complementary colors (those that appear opposite their true colors on the color spectrum), Wagner found certain textures began to stand out — the dimpling and stem on the blood orange for example. They’re things you see ordinarily but with paint, “You see it in a different way.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Moscow Artwalk 2018
WHEN: Events begin at 3 p.m. Friday
Three highlights of Friday’s artwalk
– A 4 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony will introduce a new public art mosaic mural by Spokane artist Melissa Cole at the Moscow Public Library.
– Live music at more than 12 locations, including Friendship Square downtown where, from 5 to 10 p.m., you’ll find Runaway Symphony and other local acts.
– Face painting, blacksmithing, weaving, hand fiber spinning and other arts demonstrations along Main Street.