As photography has changed in recent years, so have the artists working in the discipline. They have adapted to new technology, borrowed ideas and materials from other arts, sometimes producing unusual results. Isabelle Schneider is one of these creatives, bringing to her work a strong aesthetic that transcends various methods, materials, and labels.
Originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania, Schneider enrolled at FIT/Parsons, creating her own course of study in fashion design, and became interested in photography thinking it would be striking on fabric. In conversation with her, the word “organic” comes up repeatedly, as does a preference for art that isn’t overly precious or artificially set off from the space it occupies. “When you have something that is public like your clothing,” she said, “you are changing…the landscape of what you see in society.” In other words, art should be integrated into our lives, and inspiration is everywhere if look for it.
Schneider does. Setting out from her home in Ridgewood, Queens, or wandering through Chelsea’s gallery district, details of local architecture or refuse on the street catch her eye, details other people would overlook.
Though the images are intriguing on their own, a traditional print is not necessarily the final result. A number are beautifully printed on archival rag paper, but others are output onto fabric and incorporated into clothing design. What informs and links both is a personal aesthetic that favors a neutral color palette, with discovered, organic shapes that often convey a sense of sculpture. Which is not surprising given that Richard Serra and Isamu Noguchi are among her favorite artists. In her work is a sense of gathered impressions and inspirations taken from the environment, permeable borders between mediums as well as art and craft, all of which lead to unusual and thought-provoking results. Though she does not manipulate images in Photoshop, she does embrace digital, creating work that would not have been possible twenty or thirty years ago.
“I started doing…photography by accident,” said Schneider, “with what I had.” What she had was a digital camera that produced a file that allowed for a number of printing options on various media. Taking more and more photographs, she began to imagine how striking they would be on fabric. Since she didn’t know how to get them on material, she put them on jewelry instead. Earrings incorporating images from Ridgewood and Bushwick have been among her most popular items.
Then Schneider attended a trade show of Korean textiles and persuaded one firm to run up a sample with an image on fabric. When she found a Canadian company well-versed in the process, her unique art was off and running.
While some images from Objects and Surfaces find their way onto material, Schneider also prints this series on rag paper in a traditional archival manner. For now they are eight and a half by eleven inches, but already she’s imagining them bigger, perhaps with elements of collage and 3D.
When she came to Ridgewood six years ago, there were few cafes or galleries. But with space and affordable rents the neighborhood, like nearby Bushwick, became a magnet for artists, and Schneider has found a circle of like-minded souls. “There’s a real close-knit sort of thing here,” she said, “people do want to meet each other.” She also joined an arts coalition and began to participate in gallery shows. Starting December 2nd, she will be one of three featured artists in Gifts of the Magi 2016 at the Friday Studio Gallery.
Art by Isabelle Schneider will be on display at the Friday Studio Gallery, 350 Scholes Street, Studio 204, 2nd Floor, in Brooklyn through December 30, 2016. The opening reception will be Friday, December 2nd from 6-8 PM.
– Catherine Kirkpatrick, 2016