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Iris Spellings, an Ohio native, earned her BFA in 1975 at the John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis where she majored in painting and sculpture. Her work has been exhibited in North America, Europe and Japan and is in numerous public and private collections, including the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, the Polaroid Collection, the Helmut Gernsheim Collection and the Graham Nash Collection.

After early experiments in various aspects of photographic media, Spellings began in the 1980s to develop her own distinctive approach to photography. The result was the creation of an uncommonly haunting visionary quality in her prints—a unique synthesis of a reality hidden or unseen, observable to the probing intuitive eye. Spellings seeks a resolution between the creative process of photography itself and its potential to capture both the seen and unseen; to record the tangible world, as well as the realm of dreams and visions.

The Spellings portrait is never an attempt to express likeness or personality. Instead, the use of a live model, actual objects, as well as transparent and translucent fabric scrims, creates an enigmatic still life. Spellings then meticulously manipulates the real and artificial light that transforms the photographed environment. Moreover, her creative process recognizes the transformational advantages of chance or accident in the development of form, which Spellings identifies as divine intervention. Through these procedures, her print brings to life that dialectic between the photographer, the subject, the environment, and it’s final emergence as a print. One might say that a Spellings print becomes a “photographic mandala” mirroring the interactive creative process.

In Spellings’ most recent work she experiments with a more intense use of color within a subtle cubist planar space. Yet, her attention remains focused on furthering the understanding of the unseen. She seeks to reveal that which is hidden, that which lies beyond and behind the form, leading the viewer to see how the illusionary veils reality; and, perhaps most important, she showcases the universal significance of Light!












Within Silence:
Acknowledging the Unseen

Many nuances in these images were not perceptible to the human eye before they appeared in the photograph. Such is the nature of light.

In these portraits I am not concerned with the personality or the physical body in the traditional sense of portraiture, preferring to focus on the essence of the human being, the soul, and the subtle (light) body. These include the etheric life force, which energizes the dense physical body—giving it warmth, motion and sensitivity—as well as the astral and mental bodies. The latter of which vibrate at different rates as they interpenetrate the physical body. It is these energies, thoughts, vibrations and frequencies that I seek to capture.

The process becomes an intuitive dialog—a silent communication. Energy follows thought, and as thought changes, so does the form. It is therefore important what the subject and the photographer are thinking when the image is recorded. I use translucent veils or scrims to eclipse the personality, the outer form, in order to more fully catch the light, to better reveal that which lies within.

These images portray those still and quiet, but powerful, times when the hidden is revealed, when the camera can capture those deeper states of consciousness, as in meditation.

Iris Spellings


resume available on request