Although the content of their art has a similar ethereal quality, both have very different approaches. Jerry Uelsmann rose to fame in the 60's and 70's as a master black-and-white printer creating composite images with multiple enlargers and long hours in the traditional darkroom. In contrast, Maggie Taylor produces her dreamlike color images by scanning objects into a computer using a flatbed scanner, manipulating the images with Adobe Photoshop, and printing them in a digital workflow using Epson Stylus Pro printers.
"Their work is stunning, well-loved, and appreciated all over the world," said Amy Vigilante, director of the University Galleries. The show includes many prints from each artist in typical exhibition sizes and formats, but it also features bigger than life 60 x 90-inch Epson prints. "These are unusual new formats for both Maggie and Jerry because of the size, so we're also showing a whole new way of experiencing some of their images."
The "Just Suppose" exhibit at UF is a homecoming for the two Gainesville residents. Uelsmann taught at UF from 1960 until his retirement in 1997. He met his future wife when she was a graduate student studying fine art and photography at the university. The synergy sparked an upsurge in their respective creative output, through Uelsmann's alchemy in the traditional darkroom and Taylor's fearlessness in working with the latest digital technology.
Since Uelsmann's first show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York 30 years ago, his famed 16 x 20-inch silver gelatin prints have been seen all over the world. When his wife insisted that he "go bigger" for the "Just Suppose" exhibition, he wasn't completely sure what he'd end up with. Although he has always loved ink on paper from his student days, it was a turning point to imagine one of his original darkroom creations scanned in digitally and transformed into a towering 60 x 90-inch print.
Taylor talked him into using the 64-inch Epson Stylus Pro 11880 to create "the world's largest Jerry Uelsmann print ever." For the first time, Uelsmann saw that the quality of Epson ink jet printing could faithfully reproduce his black-and-white darkroom prints via Epson's new MicroPiezo TFP Print head and AccuPhoto HD screening. "I'm very excited about the scale that can be produced with Epson ink jet prints, and I think the quality is amazing," Uelsmann said.
Imagine a pair of hands resting across an open book in the foreground of a black-and-white image, while a door in the far distance leads to other realms. The surreal image is powerful as a silver gelatin print, one of many that Uelsmann laboriously crafted in the darkroom, where he would sometimes use up to eight enlargers for the right effect. But when the Epson printer allowed him to increase the scale beyond the height of a grown man, his photograph had an even more potent outcome than he could ever have imagined. "It was as if I were looking at my image with new eyes," he said. "Going this large with this level of quality is virtually impossible in the darkroom."
Intermingled with her husband's "Just Suppose" images, the otherworldly art of Maggie Taylor reflects her own imaginative ventures into digital technology. An artist whose work is equally admired worldwide, Taylor composes in painstaking detail on a flatbed scanner, using Victorian photographs, old toys, leaves, butterflies and other interesting objects to develop her ideas. She only uses a camera to photograph things or people she can't fit on the scanner surface. "Since I'm alluding to that dream universe, I don't think the images have to totally make sense," said Taylor.
"When I use the Epson Stylus Pro 9880, the printer is as much a part of the creative process as the composition of the original digital image itself because I have complete control"
Epson's large-format printers help Taylor breathe new life into her fantastic color creations as exhibition prints. "When I use the Epson Stylus Pro 9880, the printer is as much a part of the creative process as the composition of the original digital image itself because I have complete control," said Taylor. UltraChrome K3™ Ink Technology with Vivid Magenta Ink enables her to achieve an extremely wide color gamut. The Vivid Magenta inks bring out extreme blues and purples, as in "The Patient Gardener," depicting a woman covered with green leaves and surrounded by electric blue butterflies.
The exhibition created quite a stir, showing two completely different ways to express often similar artistic viewpoints. "It's stunning to see Taylor's intriguing color images and Uelsmann's famed black-and-white images on large Epson prints," a viewer commented in the crowded gallery on opening night. Epson's latest ink jet technology is bringing new life and scale to the images of fine artists like Uelsmann and Taylor, enabling artists to increase their work's visibility and collectibility.