Family Members from 19th Century are Part of Project

Mesa Republic Corinne Geertsen
Family Members from 19th Century are Part of Project by Sally Mesarosh

Corinne Geertsen’s ancestors show up in the most unlikely places. They might be cast adrift at sea or perched atop a pogo stick or floating high above the clouds.

As a digital artist, Geertsen mixes old and new images to create quirky visual narratives. She designs digital prints by using old family photos and her own original art to illustrate parables.

Her work is featured at Phoenix’s Burton Barr Central Library in an exhibit titled Psychological Images of Sophistication and Quirk that runs through Jan. 3 at the library’s @Central Gallery.

Geertsen said the ideas originated when she began to digitally restore hundreds of family photos from the 19th century by learning Photoshop techniques.

“I quickly saw what a rich resource the family photos are and what could be done with them,” Geertsen said. “I work from my incessantly growing library of over 20,000 images-my own photographs, old family photos and scans of everything from marshmallows to dead bugs. Often, I draw or paint something, then photograph it and put it into a digital picture.

“Geertsen, who holds a bachelor and a master of fine arts degrees from Brigham Young University, enrolled in digital art classes at Mesa Community College to learn to use new resources that weren’t available when she received her degrees.

“When I graduated, computers had their own rooms and there was no Photoshop.” Geertsen said. “I’m currently enjoying classes that did not exist then.

“She said she found MCC art instructor Tom Klare’s Photoshop classes enormously helpful.

“The classes have given me a thorough working foundation of skills.” Geertsen said. “Tom Klare also teaches how to put a concept in a picture. This has been invaluable.

“Geertsen named the show Psychological Images of Sophistication and Quirk because she thought it had a nice 19th century ring to it, just like the pictures.

“Psychological because the images pull subconscious strings,” Geertsen said. “Sophistication because demeanor in 19th century photos is detached and cool and because the set-ups in the pictures are elegant.

“Geertsen said she hopes people who attend her exhibit enjoy the images as much as she enjoys creating them.

“The digital pictures were tremendously interesting and fun to make,” Geertsen said. “I hope that looking at them is also. I think of the pictures as snapshots of ongoing stories and fables. I’m always happy when they’re funny but true. I hope this comes through as well.”