Caitlin Teal Price is one of those rare and exciting artists whose work is never static, having started as a strict photographer, using the camera to capture images of the world. But in recent years, Price has begun to use photography not as the end, but as the starting point for each art work, integrating other techniques to build on the image to capture the art that the everyday life is.
While visually Price’s work shifts, the interests have always remained the same. From exploring ideas of the spirit and the way it manifests in everyday life, to how human existence interacts with and is affected by the presence of spirit in daily life, Price pushes the boundaries of those ideas as well and in doing so is not afraid to surprise us with a new visual territory or modes of working.
Price first gained recognition after receiving an MFA from the Yale School of Art for the collection titled Stranger Lives. Stranger Lives captures strangers sunbathing on the stretch of sand between Brighton Beach and Coney Island, New York. Each photograph, shot from directly above the subject using a Maymia RZ medium format camera, is of a single person with closed eyes. The hot sun beats down on the glistening body allowing for a deep and sharp focus on the subject’s skin and surrounding belongings. This direct and specimen-like perspective gives the viewer a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of these strangers and allows each viewer to attach personal narrative to the subject.
This work invites the viewer to experience what Price identifies as “the spirit”—the intangible elements that are always present and connecting individuals in this world. In this way, Stranger Lives illustrates the mundane, everyday leisure activity of lying on the beach. It connects people to the common experience of relaxing on the beach, for every human is a body that require rest, and has defining objects. Looking at this work calls the viewers to pay attention to that and experience the in-between that connects people together.
In Price’s most recent body of work, Scratch Drawings, the artist veers away from the traditional constructs of photography to explore ideas of daily life and spirit in a completely different visual way. Price incorporates photography with etched drawing to create this striking abstract body of work. In Scratch Drawings, Price begins with a photograph of sunlight falling onto colored paper and then uses that photograph as the background image which is worked into with an x-acto blade, laboriously carving thousands of minute x-acto blade marks into the surface of the print to create pure abstractions of photographic scenes found within the everyday.
In Scratch Drawings, Price takes the audience to that in-between spirit space with splashes of light that are recognized as both ordinary and transporting. What draws the viewer’s attention are the abstract images transposed onto this light; images that resemble figures and landscapes. And as the viewer looks closer, what can be seen are images created from tiny shapes, leaving the viewer amazed by the labor that the meticulous etches must have required, calling the individual to consider that labor in human lives and both the difficulty and beauty of it. This work beautifully blends the tangible and the intangible, the seen and the unseen and the result is unusual, a bit otherworldly, and unexpectedly stunning.
Caitlin Teal Price is most certainly an artist expected to continue to surprise and intrigue. For art enthusiasts who are always in search of something new, Price is most certainly an artist to follow, and can be kept in touch with through www.caitlintealprice.com.