Dead Birds and Magical Realism in Las Vegas
This Summer has been an unexpected adventure. After a trying Winter I took off running in this new year and I have barely had time to process everything, let alone bring myself to write about it. Despite this, evidence such as these photos of my various exploits exist.
Earlier this year I was approached by Jason Pfohl, from Gorilla Glass, to model some wearable sculptures that were to be released at this year’s Association of Professional Piercers conference in Las Vegas. The sculptures were created for Gorilla Glass by glass artists Karen and Jasen Willenbrink-Johnson. Using their innovative glass techniques they created life-like sculptures of bird remains which are then mounted onto a silver chain that can be worn through stretched ear lobes. I was immediately struck by the beauty of these pieces. I’m so used to Gorilla Glass making wonderfully understated designs whereas these were intricate and conceptual, calling them works of art is not an exaggeration.
When I met up with Jason to discuss the photo shoot, he mentioned that these were being shot in the hotel where conference was being held. I have shot in hotel rooms before and I cannot say that I had a good experience so I was hesitant at first trying to conjure up a concept that would take us outside to the desert but due to my schedule and that of the photographer’s this was not possible. In my mind it was difficult to reconcile the romantic artistry of the jewelry with the vapid nature of Bally’s Hotel and Casino. This conflict however, gave rise to the concept photographer Romina Hierro, Jason, and I developed for the session. The juxtaposition would be exploited and I would act as a mediator between the Dead Birds and our surroundings. I wanted to add some surreal elements to the images so the mirrors and the milky white liquid in the tub were added. I’m quite pleased with the result. Romina Hierro was a wonderful photographer to work with and the jewelry is so beautiful I adopted the Raptor Skulls. The entire ‘Dead Birds’ series, with all the models, can be seen HERE. To see the rest of my photos for the series, click on the image below to visit the ‘Dead Birds’ gallery.