During the last London Fashion Week, our attention was drawn to the collection by Palmer//Harding, and their aesthetic collaboration with American photographer, Christy Lee Rogers. Intrigued by how one inspires the other, we wanted to find out about their work apart and together. Here is Part 2 with Christy Lee Rogers.
Flowing through the very centre of the Palmer//Harding AW13/14 collection is the inspiration found in the work of Hawaii native and Los Angeles based visual artist and photographer Christy Lee Rogers.
Rogers’ work has been compared to that of Italian artist Caravaggio and it was one of her pieces, Panthera Onca, from her Odyssey collection, which brought together the emotions of the collection.
Christy opens up to Emma Daniels about her career and the collaboration of talent between both her and Palmer//Harding.
Let us start from the beginning…
Christy Lee Rogers: As a child I was mostly a performer, creating funny characters to perform for my little brother. My next and ultimate love was painting, although I ripped up and destroyed almost every painting I’d ever painted. And then, of course I fell in love with poetry and experimental filmmaking. Photography became a way to combine all of these art forms I loved.
I was born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu in a family of musicians, and spent a considerable amount of my life in and around the water.
Most of what I know about Photography was learned from trial and error and I have a Bachelor of Arts in Film Theory. It was my experimentation process in Photography that enraptured me most, made me happiest and most free as an artist. My work is extremely personal and follows my search and interest into the nature of mankind, the material universe and the gamut of emotions that inspire me in life.
Emma Daniels: Palmer//Harding have cited a piece of your work as the inspiration for their A/W 13 collection, how did that come about?
Christy Lee Rogers: Levi Palmer first approached me about using one of my images “Panthera Onca” for their London Fashion Week Autumn/ Winter 2013 presentation invitation saying that they had used it as inspiration for their new collection, which is about conflict between opposites; fluidity and structure, austerity and romance, dirty and clean. “Panthera Onca” is from my “Odyssey” collection, which explores good and evil through an interpretation of mythological characters, so this was a great pairing of art and fashion.
Emma Daniels: Do you like the fashion ties that this accidental collaboration has created?
Christy Lee Rogers: I love it and it actually has me very inspired at the moment.
Emma Daniels: Your work looks very technical, looking at ‘Panthera Onca’ in particular, what goes in to creating a piece like that? The fact that it has not been manipulated is just incredible.
Christy Lee Rogers: Technically, I’m using physics and refraction of light as it passes from the air, which has a lower optical density, into the water, with a higher optical density. In air light travels at about 186,000 miles per second, but in water light travels only about 140,000 miles per second. Of course there is a fine line between disaster and perfection because I’m experimenting. But if I get everything right then the effects can produce fantastic optical illusions: intensification of colours, blurring, blending and a painting-like final image. In reality what I’m doing is very simplistic and I think that’s what carries the piece.
My subject for Panthera Onca was from Transylvania and the image was one of those happy mistakes, where everything goes wrong, and of course that’s the one I’m going to love the most. She came out of the water and said, “I’m sorry I messed that one up,” and I smiled as we continued.
Emma Daniels: For the Odyssey collection, what was it you set out to create?
Christy Lee Rogers: There are no words that could completely express my answer and it’s probably why I had to make these images… so I could let that free from within myself. Art has been the best way to express emotions I have no words for but I can tell you that I knew with this collection that I wanted put forward the idea that there were still mysterious, impossibly beautiful things on Earth—not solely in our imaginations. And I wanted to show the wonder, tranquillity and hope of mankind. It became a sort of journey for me as well, as life throws you on this roller coaster through good and bad; and so that became a part of the collection.
Emma Daniels: What were your inspirations?
Christy Lee Rogers: Right before this collection I had lost everything and each day of my life at that point was interesting. Now looking back, I’d say hitting bottom and realising that I wouldn’t die no matter how hard things got, that’s enough to inspire me for a long time. It makes you strong and allows you to see what really matters. I’m really big into music and so that was a huge inspiration for this collection as well as mythology and Homer’s book “Odyssey”, which was given to me by a friend in the middle of shooting the collection. It not only inspired the name and many names of pieces but also the dark creatures that I created.
Emma Daniels: Have you seen the Palmer//Harding collection yet?
Christy Lee Rogers: Yes, I have and it’s absolutely breathtaking, timeless and brilliant!
Emma Daniels: After Odyssey, what’s next?
Christy Lee Rogers: Reckless Unbound, which opened late last year in LA and Paris. And I’m sitting in Hawaii at the moment dreaming up my next still and video collection, which will most likely feature some crazy new dress designs that I’m creating from scratch.
Odyssey and Reckless Unbound collections are available and on exhibit throughout the US and Europe with shows this year in Belgium and London. Prints are available in the United Kingdom through A Gallery & Album Artists, Eliane Nagata in Paris, Barclay’s Club in Monaco, Art Gallery AFK in Lisbon, Portugal, The Christopher Hill Gallery in Napa & Sonoma Valley, CA, Graphite Galleries in New Orleans, Laura Rathe Fine Art in Houston & Dallas, TX and Cedar Street Galleries in Honolulu, HI.
For more on Christy Lee Rogers see www.christyrogers.com