Up Close And Personal

Up Close And Personal

Photographer Kathy Collier sees things differently


Kathy Collier says she wasn’t raised to be an artist. In fact, her mother didn’t much like the idea.

But the difference seems to be in the definition. Collier’s mom and dad both created their own kind of art.

Picnic for Pixies

“My parents were back-to-the-landers in the ’70s,” Collier explains. “We moved to Madison County in 1977 so they could pursue that dream. We didn’t really have art, save music, in our home growing up, [but] they were both ‘makers.’ They made or grew everything for our family from our clothes to our food and everything in between — including our home itself.”

It was at Ramey Junior High in Fayetteville that Collier discovered art in the more conventional sense.

“After my first art class [with teacher Erin Chapman], I went home and told my mom I wanted to be an artist, and she was not pleased at all,” Collier remembers. “She wanted me to put myself into what she considered practical things, and so I embraced that and used my creative energy for being a maker and a gardener, like her.

“It’s funny, though, that I continued to feel Erin’s influence in my life, and even though my projects weren’t exactly artistic, I tried to put a part of myself into them in an artistic way, I suppose. Much later in life, after my children were born, I got exposed to the work of [American photographer] Sally Mann and that sparked something in me. Sally says ‘… if you want to make good art, photograph what you love …’ I try to follow that advice with a single-minded focus.”

Collier says the only medium she has ever taken seriously is photography.

“I fell in love with macro-photography when I realized that there were infinite intricate structures in nature that can’t easily be observed with the naked eye,” she explains. “There is a whole world of unimaginable diversity in a moss bed, or on a lichen covered tree limb.

“I approach macro-photography a little differently than a lot of photographers,” Collier goes on. “Because most of my subjects are static and found in shady dark places, I incorporate some elements of landscape photography and portraiture. I use tiny flash lights to create dramatic lighting, a low perspective to give a distorted sense of scale and long exposures to create the feeling of a tiny landscape. My more recent work has been a little different, but I still steer away from tons of fill light and wide open apertures.”

Collier’s upbringing surfaces again not just in her connection to nature — “growing up without a TV in a very rural environment gave me a deep and abiding love of the outdoors,” she says — but in the way she completes her photographs for display and sale.

Courtesy Images
Kathy Collier’s macro images of fungi, lichens, spiders and other small creatures emphasize minute details of the secret, shadowy places of the natural world. Her masterful use of lighting creates dramatic and compelling photographs, hand-framed in native hardwoods and shadow boxes.

“My mom’s influence to make things is what got me presenting my work in handmade frames,” she explains. “Each of my framed prints is a one-of-a-kind piece. And very often the choice of wood is informed by my subject.”

Although this is Collier’s third year as part of the Holiday Art Sale — formerly the Block Street Art Sale, founded by Don House — she says she still gets nervous about showing her work.

“Because much of my work focuses on fungi and lichens and other minute structures that a lot of people don’t even realize exist, it can be super awkward to present the images as ‘art’ and not something you would see in a field guide,” she says. “It is deeply personal, and I don’t have perfect confidence that what I think of as fascinating or beautiful is what someone else would see as beautiful, or see as a piece of art they would like to have in their home.

“Once the show is open though, I am usually able to let go of my anxiety and enjoy the excitement of sharing the work with a larger audience.”



The Holiday Art Sale

WHEN — 6-9 p.m. Dec. 7; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 8; and noon-4 p.m. Dec. 9

WHERE — Gallery 545, 545 W. Center St. in Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO — facebook.com/TheHolidayArtSale/



Also showing their work at the Holiday Art Sale are:

Bill Correll

Watercolor and acrylic paintings celebrate the human figure, nature and the built environment in both impressionist and expressionist compositions.

Gerald Lee Delavan

Mixed-media mobiles and metal sculptures are whimsical configurations of found and created components, incorporating metal, semi-precious stones, beads, crystal, wood: delightfully kinetic and endlessly fascinating.

Alice McKee

Fabric art, jewelry and stunning leather creations (baby boots, bracelets and much more).

Juli Odum

One-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces & bracelets crafted with semi-precious stones, vintage plastic, acrylic, brass and sterling, from chunky amber and coral to delicate chains with sparklies.

Marietta Camillieri

Hand painted and marbleized silk scarves, shibori/marbleized silk ties, hand-woven baby blankets, scarves, throws, table runners and shawls.

Robin Devine

Photographs of the natural world that are altered through the layering of a beeswax medium and oil stick pigment.

Gailen Hudson

Mastery of various clay techniques allows a fluid interpretation of forms, inspired by the animal kingdom as well as a sophisticated re-working of Asian art.

Michelle Berg-Vogel

Unique hand-bound journals made with unusual papers and traditional bindings, as well as delightful small photo albums and cards.

Susan Shore

Kinetic, wildly colorful glass bead earrings, as well as striking, signature piece necklaces fashioned from vintage earrings and pins.

John Collier

Stylized spoons, bowls and other pieces of one-of-a-kind functional art crafted from native hardwoods.

Victoria McKinney

Award-winning contemporary pottery and paintings with designs inspired by artwork found on artifacts from the pre-Columbian Native American culture of the Mound Builders.

Faye Alter

Purses fashioned from 1940s and ’50s boldly-colored barkcloth and contemporary art fabric, feature vintage buttons as purse closures. Also wildly funky bowties made from vintage silk scarves.

Kim Seaberg

One-of-a-kind pieces inspired by nature and animals, realized in beautiful and whimsical multi-layered colorful fused glass panels.

David Holcomb

Multilayered paintings combining acrylic with painted-paper collage elements and occasional found-object components.

Categories: Cover Story