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Art lets me be woman, 9 January, 2017, The Huffington Post

"Women's experiences are very different from men's. As we grow up socially, psychologically and every other way, our experiences are just different. Therefore our art is going to be different.” -Joan Snyder

 

I began to be aware of what I should not do as a woman when I first moved from France to the United States in 2002.

Cultural differences helped me see gender stereotypes that I had not previously noted and I realized that as a woman I was not supposed to let my feelings flow, be too sensitive, or show emotion in professional and social settings.

Since then, I have spent most of my time functioning in a space in which I feel that I am acting, stripped of my strength, my womanhood.

But whenever I can, I retreat to another space, a space of creativity where I am free to express myself, where I don’t need to act, where I can embrace my feelings, sensitivity, and emotions. In that space I am alive, receptive, and able to fabricate and communicate. In that space, I can make art.

Art lets me be woman.

 

In recent years, I have discovered that forms experienced in nature, transport me to that space of creation and trigger feelings that I am then free to voice in a language that is neither aggressive nor explicit but romantic in that it emphasizes my personal feelings and emotions.

Forms are an essential part of reality, as are color or flavor; and neuroscience teaches that they are always present in our minds as fabrications. When we experience a form, our brain creates a spatial pattern that it processes as an object available to higher levels of perception: memory, emotion, or language. Whatever I see I perceive as a form or combination of forms, devoid of detail. For me, for example, the image of a Madonna and Child is made up of a particular set of interrelated forms. Whenever I come across a similar combination of forms in nature--in a leaf, for example--it reminds me of the Madonna and Child.

A subject’s placement within the picture frame also evokes for me a physical property like mass, or motion or position between earth and sky. In setting the flat, circular form of a poppy’s crown in the upper part of the frame I was recalling the flat, raised host before it is broken and its parts distributed to the faithful.

 

When associated with texture, forms become less generic and more palpable. We all know the feeling of a rugged edge or a fur-like, undulating surface. At the macro scale in which I see my subject, photograph it, and then print the image, the texture of a Gingko Biloba leaf looks like the aggregate concrete surface in Paul Rudolph's architecture. The leaf’s image invokes the feel of its lamina against my fingertips. To others it may look and feel like something else, for we each have our unique knowledge and experience of things.

 

Tactile features of my images may evoke animal behavior and emotion, as well. Two shiny, smooth, sinuously-intertwined tubular stems made me think of a young woman’s naked legs posed seductively. An arrangement of three photographs of the subject, taken at different angles, created a joyful Three Graces among whom charm, beauty, and creativity were in play.

 

Forms from everyday life enshrined in our memories can, like the evocative taste of Proust's madeleine dipped in tea, bring back fine details of a past event. Two gently-overlapping stems with flattened ends called up a pleasurable childhood memory that had been long locked away: sitting on brightly-colored cushions in the public library, I am reading the story of shoelaces whose love play made their shoe wearer trip and fall. My personal analogy caused an involuntary recall that felt vivid and meaningful and allowed an essential part of me to resurface. Did the shoelace story shape my concept of love? Was it the wellspring of my aesthetic project, “Untitled: a romantic typology of form”? Did it make me who I am today? May my images provoke in others their own moments of analogy-driven recall.

 

Leaving the studio, where I rationally determine whether a photograph is worthy to be Untitled, I search for what will trigger my internal, creative machine.

Carrying my tools--camera, macro lenses, and flash--I look for the purest of forms as I have learned that those are most likely to activate my machine.

I carve form out of raw matter--nature; install it within a frame; and model it with light, focusing on areas that I sense are important to expose. All the while, I project my feelings and emotions.

The photograph is finished when the image conveys what I have come to feel.

May my art lead viewers to their own spaces where they, too, can be free to see, feel, and respond.

 

 

 

Galerie Philia, Paris

Dear friends, I am pleased to say that my artwork is now represented by Galerie Philia in Paris, France. @galerie.philia (on Instagram)

Galerie Philia exhibits a collection resulting from a rhizomatic research transcending formal, stylistic, national or even historical barriers. The selected works can emanate from different cultures and periods, incarnate in disparate and multiform mediums, and evoke multiple and changing interior worlds. The only criterion unifying this composite plurality is quality, both in terms of aesthetics and meaning. 

The gallery attempts to build bridges between different artistic continents in order to highlight works endowed with a marked artistic depth.

The gallery sells works by Arman, Albert Feraud, Salvador Dali, Jean-Michel Atlan, Robert Marc, Henri Matisse, Pierre Soulages, and Verner Panton, among others.

More at www.galerie-philia.com

the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum and my book!

I am truly honored, my second self-published book "Untitled Vol.2" had been added to the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is home to the UK's National Collection of the Art of Photography, which comprises approximately half a million works and tells a history of photography from the 1830s to the present day. 

The book showcases fifty photographs from my ongoing master series of black-and-white photographs of living plant elements. All photographs in the series are taken in nature, parks and gardens. The book is available to purchase on Amazon, and can be found in the library at the Museum of Modern Art, the library at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, ThePhiladelphia Museum of Art library, the library at the FOMU, and the Fine Arts Library at the Harvard Art Museums.

Sophia Nguyen "Seeing Spring" Harvard Magazine (May-June 2016)

Sophia Nguyen "Seeing Spring" Harvard Magazine (May-June 2016)

In 2013, office-bound in a high-stress architecture job in Manhattan, Anna Agoston, M.Arch.II ’04, then an occasional photographer, rarely ventured outside. “I was let go in March,” she recalls, “and it was as though I had never seen spring.” Once she saw, she couldn’t stop looking. Camera in hand and flush with time, she began taking pictures of what grew in the sidewalk cracks on her street in Brooklyn, and in the nearby parks and botanic gardens. The result is a series, hundreds strong, that examines floral features in extreme close-up: the ridge along a stem; a thistle’s spikes.

Agoston attributes her delight in these details to her limited contact with nature while growing up in Paris. “I was stunned by the countryside,” she says, especially during family hiking trips to the nearby forest of Fontainebleau, with its huge formations of white rock. “Maybe now with my macro lens, looking at tiny things with a lens that makes them look much larger—maybe I’m looking for the boulders of my childhood.”

Even in close-up, her plants don’t look like monuments of a distant geological age. But captured in black and white, against a plain background, a bulb is made sculptural, and the curve of a leaf, architectural. The intensity of Agoston’s focus abstracts these forms, making them seem durable, almost timeless.

For an earlier series, Dorm, she knocked on dozens of her graduate-student neighbors’ doors during finals week and asked to take their pictures. Where that class assignment documented the diversity within a local ecosystem, Agoston’s current project removes life from the context of habitat. (And her current subjects—numbered, but unnamed—don’t object to being studied so closely, from every angle.) A tendril curls, doubling back to coil around itself; two woody twigs reach to braid together. Her true subject seems to be the mysterious elegance of adaptation, finding pragmatic solutions to unseen problems.

When her ongoing series hits 300 images, she plans to publish a third book, and one day, a single collected volume. By late February, Agoston had taken photograph 245. “The winter,” she says, “is a little slow.”

link to the article: "Seeing Spring"

Untitled Vol.2 is Anna Agoston’s second self-published book of photographs with text. Its 50 stunning black-and-white images of plant parts were photographed in nature with a macro photography lens. The photographs are part of “Untitled,” a 245-item ongoing master series in which small, inconsequential and often overlooked subjects are shown to be unique and precious.   Agoston, who thinks of her photographs as sculpture, emphasizes architecture through form and texture. She reveals depth in her deliberately volumetric photographs by contrasting light with shadow on curved or flat planes. She also stresses what the forms she photographs may evoke in the viewer. Certain subjects, because of their apparent physicality, the way they hang, and the way they intertwine, suggest animal and/or human behaviors like withdrawal, protection, or seduction.   Plants growing outdoors – whether in the countryside, parks, or gardens – all move with the breeze and as their buds burgeon, their stems bend, and their petals unfurl. It is the use of digital technology that allows Agoston to overcome such movement and to work until planes of focus match the areas that she has deemed important to expose. Her decision to photograph plants in nature is just as important as it gives her an unlimited choice of subjects and allows her to observe how their elements naturally hang or stand, and how natural light defines form by the way it falls on them.   “Untitled”’s photographs are abstract in their departure from reality because Agoston uses black and white, a macro lens, and symmetry and composition to distill chosen aspects of her subjects. Yet the series is hyperrealistic in that images present sharp, high-resolution fragments of seemingly palpable substance. The photographs comprise a romantic spectrum of forms in which feeling is perceptible and the images’ order facilitates smooth movement between and comparison of one to another. Agoston wants a walk through the series to provoke an inner experience that renews the viewer's sensitivity to the natural world. Magnifying small details of plant life that might otherwise go unnoticed brings out their monumental beauty, triggers amazement, and revives from within. By inviting contemplation, her art transcends its subjects.   Since its publication in May 2015, Agoston’s Untitled Vol.2 is now in the libraries of the Museum of Modern Art (August), the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Harvard Art Museums (September), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (December). It is available through Amazon.

Untitled Vol.2 is Anna Agoston’s second self-published book of photographs with text. Its 50 stunning black-and-white images of plant parts were photographed in nature with a macro photography lens. The photographs are part of “Untitled,” a 245-item ongoing master series in which small, inconsequential and often overlooked subjects are shown to be unique and precious.

 

Agoston, who thinks of her photographs as sculpture, emphasizes architecture through form and texture. She reveals depth in her deliberately volumetric photographs by contrasting light with shadow on curved or flat planes. She also stresses what the forms she photographs may evoke in the viewer. Certain subjects, because of their apparent physicality, the way they hang, and the way they intertwine, suggest animal and/or human behaviors like withdrawal, protection, or seduction.

 

Plants growing outdoors – whether in the countryside, parks, or gardens – all move with the breeze and as their buds burgeon, their stems bend, and their petals unfurl. It is the use of digital technology that allows Agoston to overcome such movement and to work until planes of focus match the areas that she has deemed important to expose. Her decision to photograph plants in nature is just as important as it gives her an unlimited choice of subjects and allows her to observe how their elements naturally hang or stand, and how natural light defines form by the way it falls on them.

 

“Untitled”’s photographs are abstract in their departure from reality because Agoston uses black and white, a macro lens, and symmetry and composition to distill chosen aspects of her subjects. Yet the series is hyperrealistic in that images present sharp, high-resolution fragments of seemingly palpable substance. The photographs comprise a romantic spectrum of forms in which feeling is perceptible and the images’ order facilitates smooth movement between and comparison of one to another. Agoston wants a walk through the series to provoke an inner experience that renews the viewer's sensitivity to the natural world. Magnifying small details of plant life that might otherwise go unnoticed brings out their monumental beauty, triggers amazement, and revives from within. By inviting contemplation, her art transcends its subjects.

 

Since its publication in May 2015, Agoston’s Untitled Vol.2 is now in the libraries of the Museum of Modern Art (August), the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Harvard Art Museums (September), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (December). It is available through Amazon.

I am an architect who makes art. My education and practice as an architect have informed what I see, the way I think, and what, why, and how I make art. This is a look at my art through my architect's lens. I aim to expose facets of meaning according to the Vitruvian triad of structural integrity, beauty, and utility.   Structure Architects think in terms of space and form, and structure is at the core of the architectural artifact. My Untitled project is a series of photographs of living plant elements photographed in parks and gardens. The series' parameters--defined and treated as structural elements--include print color, format, size, and borders. These shared parameters preserve the series' coherence and integrity and serve as a sculptural basis for my art by holding and framing each image. I obscure backgrounds to isolate subjects from their contexts. I strategically position my subjects within white frames to evoke feelings like withdrawal, sensuality, and love or sensations like gravity or levitation. The vertical spine of a Gingko Biloba leaf stretches sensually along the frame. The circular form of an Opium Poppy crown hovers in the upper part of the frame. I seek out and use symmetry to highlight imperfections or particularities of pattern and shape. Angling a subject's core axis up-down or right-left shows up natural asymmetries and imperfections along it, such as the minuscule irregularity on the rim of a Paphiopedilum Orchid's lower lip. Photographs shown together are arranged in a horizontal line sometimes broken into vertically-juxtaposed equal sequences. The series is to be read from left to right and top to bottom, as is Western text on a page. This arrangement brings out similarities and progressions in form--usually from the circular to the linear--and feeling. The images' positioning guides viewers from and allows them to compare one to the next.   Beauty As an architect and artist, I strive to design dwellings and make art that are moving as well as aesthetically appealing. The Untitled series is an attempt to reveal the beauty intrinsic to each subject. Subjects are mostly tiny, simple plant elements found in ordinary, natural settings that I exalt by turning them into art that celebrates them. Plant elements are either shiny, fresh, newly-germinated stems, buds, and blossoms or weathered, withered boles, twigs, and leaves. The latter are reminiscent of Wabi-sabi, the traditional Japanese aesthetic that honors transience and imperfection in nature. Art results from the act of making an image beautiful and moving. To make my subject beautiful to the viewer, I polish and emphasize form with light and draw from a palette that ranges from the pure white of a wet surface catching the light to the rich black of deep depth of field. I print digitally on thick matte Hahnemühle paper because its fine, smooth surface creates high-quality prints that emphasize fine tonal graduations. Carefully-placed planes of focus form a tonal spectrum whose span expresses sharp foreground detail as well as soft background. The end result is an image that is compellingly beautiful. My interest in architectural structure followed naturally from an earlier fascination with organic structure. I had studied the organic unit, the cell, because I was curious about how singular characteristics could account for such diverse structures as hair and bone. Now, when I look at a black-and-white print of a Gingko Biloba leaf magnified six times, what I see is architecture: structure, form, and texture that remind me of Oscar Niemeyer's magnificent reinforced-concrete edifices. It is clearly the leaf's organic structure that determines the gracious--whether sophisticated or immature--way in which it hangs from the stem. Beauty also resides in the metaphor that an image may evoke. I do not give my photographs titles, preferring to allow viewers' minds to drift and form visual associations. My photographs do, however, have private nicknames referring to the personal metaphors that they evoke in me. Discerning symbols and identifying visual metaphors is part of my creative process. While I am taking a photograph, I may identify, seek to embed a discerned symbol or metaphor. For example, when I saw and felt a Madonna and Child in a minute germinating sprout, I worked on the image until it conveyed that metaphor to me. I am nevertheless conscious that, like Rorschach inkblots, visual metaphors are infinite in number, uncontrollable, and can only be suggested to others.   Utility Whereas an artifact's utility or function is set in its programming, its function, when designed by an architect, can go beyond programming to encompass human experience of both exterior object and inner space. When presenting an architecture project, I first lay down facts about it. I lead the client around the outside of the edifice, highlighting its features and surroundings, and then move inside and through the plan from the entrance to any upper rooms, all the while pointing out how one experiences the inner spaces in concert with those visible through openings. "La promenade architecturale," this movement through the building, and the resulting sequence of images unfolding before the observer, was central to Le Corbusier's architectural design. That concept shaped his buildings interiors and exteriors. Our physical experience of any architecture and art engenders emotions that in turn affect our emotional response to our environment. Le Corbusier collected natural objects and used them to draw up the natural laws that formally influenced his design of architecture objects, whether elements like stairways or entire buildings. He wrote: "Around 1928 I felt a desire to expand my pictorial vocabulary and became interested in what I called objects of poetic reaction (objets à réaction poétique), any number of ordinary items that contain, summarize, and express the laws of nature, events understood as symbolically significant, etc. After that I began to work on the human figure." (Le Corbusier, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, Special Issue, April 1948, p. 45). The purpose of my Untitled series is not to inform my architecture but to draw attention to and elevate the small but not insignificant plant elements encountered in daily life. A walk through the series is intended to provide an inner experience that will bring about a renewed sensitivity to the natural world. Magnifying little details of life that would otherwise go unnoticed exposes monumental beauty, triggers amazement, and revives from within. By inviting contemplation, my art transcends its subjects. Architects strive to design works that are internally and externally meaningful. We are concerned with an edifice's essence and also with its cultural and historic context. Similarly, my Untitled series, by focusing on subjects' structure and beauty, is an ode to natural forms that seeks to compel the viewer to see the world with new eyes, to feel it from within. What makes my Untitled series distinct is my use of digital technology to photograph living plants in their natural environments. Freed from the studio, I observe how the fall of natural light on subjects defines their form, and faced with the elements, like wind and sun, I take multiple photographs of a single subject until I get it right. In exploring the visual metaphor in living plants, I am building on the legacy of Edward Weston's still lifes; and my use of contemporary digital tools furthers the macro photography tradition of Karl Blossfeldt by making high-resolution photographs of plant forms in nature. Unlike Hilla and Bernd Becher, I am developing a romantic typology of forms in which feeling is perceptible. In my ongoing Untitled series, I am constructing a progressive sequencing of form and feeling. My education, training, and practice have shaped my senses. I do what I cannot help but do. Being a highly sensitive person and feeling things intensely has left me with the need to express my feelings. I accomplish that through my art

I am an architect who makes art. My education and practice as an architect have informed what I see, the way I think, and what, why, and how I make art.

This is a look at my art through my architect's lens. I aim to expose facets of meaning according to the Vitruvian triad of structural integrity, beauty, and utility.

 

Structure

Architects think in terms of space and form, and structure is at the core of the architectural artifact.

My Untitled project is a series of photographs of living plant elements photographed in parks and gardens. The series' parameters--defined and treated as structural elements--include print color, format, size, and borders. These shared parameters preserve the series' coherence and integrity and serve as a sculptural basis for my art by holding and framing each image.

I obscure backgrounds to isolate subjects from their contexts. I strategically position my subjects within white frames to evoke feelings like withdrawal, sensuality, and love or sensations like gravity or levitation. The vertical spine of a Gingko Biloba leaf stretches sensually along the frame. The circular form of an Opium Poppy crown hovers in the upper part of the frame. I seek out and use symmetry to highlight imperfections or particularities of pattern and shape. Angling a subject's core axis up-down or right-left shows up natural asymmetries and imperfections along it, such as the minuscule irregularity on the rim of a Paphiopedilum Orchid's lower lip.

Photographs shown together are arranged in a horizontal line sometimes broken into vertically-juxtaposed equal sequences. The series is to be read from left to right and top to bottom, as is Western text on a page. This arrangement brings out similarities and progressions in form--usually from the circular to the linear--and feeling. The images' positioning guides viewers from and allows them to compare one to the next.

 

Beauty

As an architect and artist, I strive to design dwellings and make art that are moving as well as aesthetically appealing. The Untitled series is an attempt to reveal the beauty intrinsic to each subject. Subjects are mostly tiny, simple plant elements found in ordinary, natural settings that I exalt by turning them into art that celebrates them. Plant elements are either shiny, fresh, newly-germinated stems, buds, and blossoms or weathered, withered boles, twigs, and leaves. The latter are reminiscent of Wabi-sabi, the traditional Japanese aesthetic that honors transience and imperfection in nature.

Art results from the act of making an image beautiful and moving. To make my subject beautiful to the viewer, I polish and emphasize form with light and draw from a palette that ranges from the pure white of a wet surface catching the light to the rich black of deep depth of field. I print digitally on thick matte Hahnemühle paper because its fine, smooth surface creates high-quality prints that emphasize fine tonal graduations. Carefully-placed planes of focus form a tonal spectrum whose span expresses sharp foreground detail as well as soft background. The end result is an image that is compellingly beautiful.

My interest in architectural structure followed naturally from an earlier fascination with organic structure. I had studied the organic unit, the cell, because I was curious about how singular characteristics could account for such diverse structures as hair and bone. Now, when I look at a black-and-white print of a Gingko Biloba leaf magnified six times, what I see is architecture: structure, form, and texture that remind me of Oscar Niemeyer's magnificent reinforced-concrete edifices. It is clearly the leaf's organic structure that determines the gracious--whether sophisticated or immature--way in which it hangs from the stem.

Beauty also resides in the metaphor that an image may evoke. I do not give my photographs titles, preferring to allow viewers' minds to drift and form visual associations. My photographs do, however, have private nicknames referring to the personal metaphors that they evoke in me. Discerning symbols and identifying visual metaphors is part of my creative process. While I am taking a photograph, I may identify, seek to embed a discerned symbol or metaphor. For example, when I saw and felt a Madonna and Child in a minute germinating sprout, I worked on the image until it conveyed that metaphor to me. I am nevertheless conscious that, like Rorschach inkblots, visual metaphors are infinite in number, uncontrollable, and can only be suggested to others.

 

Utility

Whereas an artifact's utility or function is set in its programming, its function, when designed by an architect, can go beyond programming to encompass human experience of both exterior object and inner space.

When presenting an architecture project, I first lay down facts about it. I lead the client around the outside of the edifice, highlighting its features and surroundings, and then move inside and through the plan from the entrance to any upper rooms, all the while pointing out how one experiences the inner spaces in concert with those visible through openings. "La promenade architecturale," this movement through the building, and the resulting sequence of images unfolding before the observer, was central to Le Corbusier's architectural design. That concept shaped his buildings interiors and exteriors. Our physical experience of any architecture and art engenders emotions that in turn affect our emotional response to our environment.

Le Corbusier collected natural objects and used them to draw up the natural laws that formally influenced his design of architecture objects, whether elements like stairways or entire buildings. He wrote: "Around 1928 I felt a desire to expand my pictorial vocabulary and became interested in what I called objects of poetic reaction (objets à réaction poétique), any number of ordinary items that contain, summarize, and express the laws of nature, events understood as symbolically significant, etc. After that I began to work on the human figure." (Le Corbusier, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, Special Issue, April 1948, p. 45).

The purpose of my Untitled series is not to inform my architecture but to draw attention to and elevate the small but not insignificant plant elements encountered in daily life. A walk through the series is intended to provide an inner experience that will bring about a renewed sensitivity to the natural world. Magnifying little details of life that would otherwise go unnoticed exposes monumental beauty, triggers amazement, and revives from within. By inviting contemplation, my art transcends its subjects.

Architects strive to design works that are internally and externally meaningful. We are concerned with an edifice's essence and also with its cultural and historic context. Similarly, my Untitled series, by focusing on subjects' structure and beauty, is an ode to natural forms that seeks to compel the viewer to see the world with new eyes, to feel it from within.

What makes my Untitled series distinct is my use of digital technology to photograph living plants in their natural environments. Freed from the studio, I observe how the fall of natural light on subjects defines their form, and faced with the elements, like wind and sun, I take multiple photographs of a single subject until I get it right.

In exploring the visual metaphor in living plants, I am building on the legacy of Edward Weston's still lifes; and my use of contemporary digital tools furthers the macro photography tradition of Karl Blossfeldt by making high-resolution photographs of plant forms in nature. Unlike Hilla and Bernd Becher, I am developing a romantic typology of forms in which feeling is perceptible. In my ongoing Untitled series, I am constructing a progressive sequencing of form and feeling.

My education, training, and practice have shaped my senses. I do what I cannot help but do. Being a highly sensitive person and feeling things intensely has left me with the need to express my feelings. I accomplish that through my art

The Tree That Bears Fruit by Adam T. Crawford

The Tree That Bears Fruit by Adam T. Crawford, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Precise-Moment magazine, an article regarding my artwork and artistic process was published this morning 090315 on the LensCulture website. It is a beautiful article. I am deeply humbled and honored. Thank you Precise-Moment and Lensculture.

https://www.lensculture.com/articles/anna-agoston-the-tree-that-bears-fruit

An Artist’s Perspective on Inspiration and Making Art

My art is of my soul. It is a fabrication of my internal machine, an organic engine powered by my conscious and unconscious minds. It is, however, more visceral than intellectual.

I am an artist! I first said those words in October 2013 and since then I have been serious about making art. Saying those words meant I could no longer not make art. Six months earlier I had been laid off from a job that was time-consuming and stressful. My senses were numb and I was oblivious of my surroundings but in the month of March, 2013, when buds, stems and leaves began to sprout, I felt as though I had never seen spring before. I took in the world with my eyes and soul. And I gave in to the urge to make art.

When I made the first picture in my Untitled series I knew I had something strong. I couldn't stop looking at it. I contemplated it for days on my computer monitor. It was a picture of a part of a plant stripped of all references to its environment. I loved its simplicity of shape, its complexity of texture, and what these evoked in me. I knew that I had found my way.

Looking back now, my path makes sense. I know what structured my internal machine: I grew up in the center of Paris, France, where for months at a time I saw no nature. I lived with my father, a chemical engineer turned German Expressionist painter; my mother, a serious amateur photographer; and my younger brother. Camera, darkroom, and oil paints were all intrinsic to our daily life. We were a modest household in a bourgeois neighborhood.

While my brother embraced our artistic heritage at art school, I was more curious about human behavior. Studying psychosis in an undergraduate clinical psychology program gave me insights into how the mind works. I went on to medical school with the idea of becoming a psychiatrist and discovered a fascination with anatomy and with cellular biology's focus on the cell, its form, and its function. After I failed to enter the second year, I took some time off and enrolled in life drawing classes, where I continued to explore human anatomy. I used my portfolio of nudes to apply to architecture school and went on to earn two master's degrees in architecture.

Everything came together for me in architecture school. I took classes in anthropology, sociology, and art history as well as architecture. Architecture embraced all my passions: man and art, anatomy and the cell. My maturing internal machine made consciously meaningful but simple statements. In a memorial I designed to commemorate the police killing in 1986 of 22-year-old Franco-Algerian student Malik Oussekine, one entered into a dark downward spiral and emerged into a sky-lit space surrounded by concrete monoliths.

My aesthetic sensibility, informed by what I have seen and felt, is intrinsic to my internal machine. One of my first memories is of color combinations on a kimono in a museum where I was taken when I was about six years old... the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. When I visited Japan in the summer of 2000 I was again moved by what I experienced of the traditional Japanese aesthetic. It spoke to my soul and confirmed what I love.

In my Untitled series I see the influence of the traditional Japanese aesthetic whose source is the concept of wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi originated with Zen Buddhism and was introduced into Japan around the 12th century of the common era. Developing in isolation from the rest of the world, it was to become an internal cultural machine that Japanese people find difficult to explain in Western terms. As Leonard Koren writes in Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, "Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble." A wabi-sabi artifact suggests a natural process. It is, Koren writes, "irregular, intimate, unpretentious, earthy and simple."

I was already in my 20s when I first encountered the sculptures of Constantin Brâncuși at his reconstructed studio in the Georges Pompidou Center. Seeing his use of basic, essential shapes to evoke behaviors like flight and sleep I imagined that his work was less a product of his mind than it was of his internal machine, shaped by his sensory experiences in the land where he had grown up. I think of my Untitled series as being more sculpture than photography. Its emphasis is on each subject's shape and texture, and what they may evoke in the viewer.

When my internal machine goes to work, it is the creator while I become one with my subject. I think less than I see and feel. I am entirely in the present, existing only to choose which raw natural elements enter the internal machine to exit as images that will hold my gaze and thoughts.

Untitled #193, 2015.

Untitled #193, 2015.

I make photographs.

That means that it is the psychological place where I am when I take a photograph that determines my subject, what I feel, and how I express it...

What do I do? Why do I do this?

What do I do? I go for walks and take pictures of parts of plants.


Why do I do this? I love the shapes of plants and what certain shapes evoke. And I love making what I see say what it evokes by making art.

Untitled #58, 2013.

Untitled #58, 2013.

Sense

I didn't go to art school.

I studied psychoanalysis in a clinical psychology undergraduate program; cellular biology, anatomy, and genetics at medical school; and form, space, structure, history of art, and architecture at architecture school.

Turning around and looking back, it all makes sense.

 

Untitled #24, 2013.

Untitled #24, 2013.

Artist

I don't think of myself as a photographer. I think of myself as an artist, a sculptor.
I do use a camera but only as a tool to chisel away at reality. I remove color, background. I define detail. I bring out texture. I arrange, frame. I work until spirit enters the image.

Untitled #18, 2013.

Untitled #18, 2013.

Image

I am bilingual. My mother tongue is English. I learned French in nursery school. I have been asked what language I dream in. I cannot answer that question.

I believe that we dream in images, that we visualize scenes with actions, people, places, and things. I believe that words enter dreams as images.

Images have the power to take us back to the past and forward into the future. They connect us with our inner selves.

I do not title my work. I am not interested in pushing viewers to see what I see. I invite them to see through their own, inner selves.

What matters is that my images move, transport, invite contemplation.

 

Untitled #28, 2013.

Untitled #28, 2013.

Homage to my father George Anton Agoston

Six years ago today, I woke up to the news that my father, George A Agoston, had passed away peacefully at home, my mother by his side after a long battle.

My father was a gentle, sensitive humble man who first and foremost would see and address the good in others. Because of his nature he had many friends, across the world, with whom he would keep in close contact over the years.

During the Second World War my father built a chemical engineering research lab at MIT. Refusing to discriminate he took a stand and chose his fellow employees solely on their academic credentials.

A few decades ago my father spent months searching for an adoptive country for a Zairian political refugee who was then threatened with expulsion. After a long battle our friend found refuge in Canada. Because of his legal status he was able to grow into a well regarded professor of Mathematics at the University of Montreal.

My father was a remarkable artist.

My father started painting at age 5. At 9 or so, during the Great Depression, my grandparents asked my father what he wanted to be when he grew up. When my father told them he wanted to be an artist, they took him to visit a starving artist in the Rochester NY suburbs! My father proceeded to work hard, earning a doctorate from MIT in chemical engineering. After a failed first marriage my father took a sabbatical leave from Stanford University -to which he never returned- to travel the world and paint.

When my mother met my father in Paris back in the 60’s, he was a full time artist -avidly painting a painting a day - working as an editor to a scientific and artistic Paris based US magazine ‘Leonardo’. He later wrote a book that would be published by Springer-Verlag in NY, and translated in Chinese and Russian “Color theory and its application in Art and Design”

His career as an artist span more than 30 years. His work, in my opinion, captures the psychological aspect of space and time. As a ‘German Expressionist’ he would portray moments like - a party in amongst artist friends in the Paris of the early 70’s - the first man on the moon - his own version of Manet’s “Dejeuner sur l’Herbe” by using color, and matter (thickness of paint and brush strokes).

His work was him, deeply sensitive to environment, people, and times.

My father leaves behind 300 or more paintings. Some of which are now visible online at http://www.georgeagoston.net/

My father’s ashes were scattered over the sea off the cliffs of the Costa Brava.

Self-portrait, 1964. oil on canvas www.georgeagoston.net  

Self-portrait, 1964.

oil on canvas

www.georgeagoston.net

 

The Shadow of the Centre Georges Pompidou

I grew up in the shadow of the Centre Georges Pompidou, right in the center of Paris, France.
For months at a time, I did not get to see or experience nature.


An image from a childhood movie remains vivid in my mind. It is a fragment from a scene. There is a snowy landscape. The protagonist dismounts from his horse, bends down, and picks up a twig with two acorns. The twig fills the screen and is gently rotated so that one can take in it's features.


We are shaped by the first years of our life. Coincidence has little to do with why we are, who we are, and why we do what we do.



Untitled #90, 2014.

This Budding Excitement

In March 2013 I was laid off from a stressful and time-consuming job. Buds, stems and leafs were sprouting. It was as though I had never seen spring before.

I needed to somehow contain this budding excitement in my art.

As I took photographs I started to understand just what it was that I loved in my newly-identified subject. I loved the shapes, the textures, and the fact that natural elements evoked human behaviors. As I worked, my series became a spectrum, making it possible to shift from one point in the spectrum to another, and to compare...

Untitled #163, 2014.

I also had to get lines straight up and down.

My mother was an amateur photographer. I remember her instructions when I was a little girl.

The framing of the image was important. I also had to get lines straight up and down.

I tried various media, such as oil on canvas, before settling on photography.

Photography satisfies me and enables me to say what I have to say without thinking too much about it. I have a visceral connection with the camera. The camera is an extension of my body that enables me to make what I have in my mind.

Untitled #26, 2013.