Elisa Decker’s photographs uncover the magic of the microcosm, the mysterious accidents awaiting discovery by the artist’s cunning eye. She has found enchanted landscapes in mud puddles and dreamlike worlds behind rain-streaked windows. In the images shown here, an untitled series shot mostly in Manhattan, Decker has turned to the evocative imagery hiding in plain sight as wallpaper and paint peel away to reveal shapes both unsettling and familiar.
A seagull or dove seems to head toward the coastline in Bird Wave. Crooked teeth gnaw their way from behind the ruptured surface of Biting Through. A twisted little man dances and maybe plays the violin in Too Hot to Handle. And a gigantic thumb (or perhaps it’s a penis) thrusts its way through Rust Apparition.
None of this is for real, of course. It’s what the artist sees and what the viewer imagines. And you can be just as content to see nothing at all and simply enjoy the subtly burnished surface of an image like Marseille.
Trained as a painter at Maryland Institute of Art, Decker always used a camera—a Kodak Brownie to begin with—to document her work. She started with portraiture and landscape and eventually gravitated to pure abstraction, but it all ties in together. “People don’t really see, and seeing is what I’m all about,” she observes. “Whatever medium it is—painting, drawing, or photography.”
Her photos, Decker says, are about finding things that most people walk right past. “It’s all out there. There’s no borderline between the invisible and the visible. It’s all there, if you see it.”
Top: Bird Wave, archival pigment print, 9.75 by 13 inches