Maggie Taylor’s Stellar Stories (2018) is photo-based digital collage featuring three nude muses standing in a pond. Two of the figures are marble statues, scanned from a fairly rare 19th-century daguerreotype of Hiram Powers’ The Greek Slave (1846). “What is rare is that the photographer made a double exposure to capture the front and back of the same statue on one polished silver daguerreotype plate,” Taylor says.
The Greek Slave was the first American sculpture of a naked woman, and it caused a sensation, both because it was risqué and for its connection to current political events, as the United States headed toward the Civil War. “Even though I know that it represents a Greek woman enslaved by Turkish captors, and that abolitionists lauded it, I always felt I wanted to change it,” Taylor says. “Eventually, it occurred to me that I wanted to make these ‘two’ women not be slaves, and that I wanted them to be my muses. I needed a third woman to put with them.”
Taylor found the figure in the middle in an iPhone photo of a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), snapped years ago in an European museum. She retains her fleshless, stone face, while the more animated woman taken from the original daguerreotype, dangles a mask of a face that looks much like her own. They are “clothed” in antique celestial maps that Taylor took apart digitally and placed on their bodies. The trio wades in shallow, murky water, behind a crackled scrim that lends a haunted sense of antiquity to an image that also feels post-apocalyptic.
See it at Photo-eye Gallery (1300 Rufina Circle, 505-988-5152, photoeye.com) ◀