The Mysteries of Geertsen’s World by Amy Young

201201-Java-Mag Corinne Geertsen
The Mysteries of Geertsen’s World by Amy L. Young

The study of human psychology is a plump and juicy onion to peel. Much like the actual and seriously pungent bulb, what is uncovered beneath the science’s initial layer is malodorous and makes us cry. Luckily, its density and depth also allows for us to laugh and scratch our heads as we collect informative inklings of why we do the things we do. Artist Corinne Geertsen’s digital photo composites are intricate portraits of psychological predicaments, respectively clever in initially engaging you with their poise and precision before your tiny internal hammers start tapping at various emotional nails.

When tapping into the psychological realm, where better to start than with one’s own family? After all, we do owe some of our special traits and quirks to those who thread our lineage. Photographs of Geertsen’s ancestors are generally used as the subjects in her often-surreal scenarios, thoughtfully tweaked to enhance the overall image. The Arizona-based artist has an MFA in painting and drawing from Brigham Young University; some of the show’s pieces include photographs of her own paintings.

In “Hat with Feathers,” a woman dons a Victorian-style white dress as she looks intently into the distance. Though her garb may promote her as prim and proper, her hat is adorned with two intriguing owls, a smaller bird on top of a heartier fowl. The whimsical headdress, along with the subtle and perhaps mischievous gleam in her eyes, shows the elements of a spirited, zesty personality benath the skin-concealing attire. It’s not just the symbolism found in the work that forms a connection between viewer and photograph, but the alluring composition that makes you even want the think about what it is saying in the first place. The piece pays tribute to the old adage of not judging a book by its cover and does so by drawing you in with its arcane vibe, time-worn aesthetic and soft beauty.

Another piece, “The Moment Before the Consequence of an Error” highlights the artist’s wit. In an unfortunate scenario, four men are adrift in a rickety rowboat in the middle of a ruffled body of water. They face the viewer as we look past them to see that a whale with a rope attached to both their boat and its tail has just taken a hefty dive into the deep. It is their expressions that shine. Not one of the four seems to be filled with fear. As there’s nothing that can be done, they dryly accept their fate.

The face of one gentleman even hosts a faint smile. Sometimes we do get ourselves into jams – Geertsen reminds us of both the precautions we should concern ourselves with and the perceptions we should take from a situation.

It’s man meets mallet in “Car Polo,” a motion-filled shot of several men both in and out of their vintage race cars, bodies strewn about-some flying through the air, some incapacitated. The mallets, in some cases, have also taken to flight. It’s a mystery as to whether the tumultuous and dust stormy setting is the cause or the result of this chaotic sporting endeavor. Not a surprise, as Geertsen’s world is all about mystery and the discovery of hidden treasures that are found as mysteries unravel. (Java Magazine January 2012)