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creation story: Anne C. Savedge, photographer

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What she does: Savedge combines traditional color photography with digital imaging and new computer technology to create her art. "…I do not try to record the truth, but to create a different dimension, using colors, objects, reflections, lights, movement and people," her artist statement reads. "This work is presented as a vision of what could be, not what is."

How she does it: For the still-life images she is exhibiting at Glen Allen, Savedge collected objects such as leaves, flowers, insects and dead snakes during her daily walks. She then placed combinations of these objects directly on a scanner, held them in place with a sheet of clear Mylar, and printed the resulting image on an Epson 2000P pigment printer. In essence, she used her scanner as a camera.

In her other work, she takes color photographs with a Canon point-and-shoot camera (the image quality of digital cameras "is not quite there yet," she says), scans the negatives, then uses Photoshop to combine negatives and manipulate the images.

The evolution of her art: Savedge originally trained as a painter, even exhibiting her work in a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts biennial in the mid-1970s. Her paintings were super-realistic, and she came to realize that photography would be a more satisfying medium to work with so she began taking photography classes at VCU.

Her photos never turned out exactly the way she wanted, so she started drawing on the negatives with fine-tip permanent markers before printing them. "I was never interested in capturing the perfect image," she says. "I would take a picture and think, 'Now where can I go with this?'"

In 1990 she began teaching commercial photography at the Chesterfield Technical Center, and in 1993 won a grant that enabled her to spend a week studying Photoshop at the Center for Creative Imaging in Maine. The experience has a profound effect on her teaching and art, both of which have since been focused on the latest technology.

Her artistic epiphany: Savedge was vacationing with her family in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics when she was captivated by the sight of hundreds of people frolicking in a fountain in Olympic Park. The six images she shot of that scene set a new direction for her artistic career.

She came home, combined the negatives into one long horizontal image and manipulated it so that the figures were elongated and abstracted, and all identifying features were removed. The result is "Fountain Freeze," a large, (15-inch-by-50-inch) lovely, evocative work of obscured, watery figures representing the union of traditional photography, technology and an artist's eye.

Why so much water?: Much of Savedge's work focuses on water: fountains, swimming pools, beaches, waterfalls. Part of that is because her son is a competitive swimmer, and she has spent many years sitting by a swimming pool. And she says she is interested in the distortions caused by the reflection and refraction of light and her subject's relationship to the water. "When you get in the water it's like you're in another world. … Even if you're in the midst of a lot of other people, the water forms a barrier."

— by Jessica Ronky-Haddad



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