Rule Breakers: Maria Flore

“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break the rule in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule."

Rule Setter: Danny Sanchez, Associate Director, Themes+Projects Gallery
Rule Breaker: Maria Flore

In the age of the selfie, I never want to see another picture where the subject demands, “Look at me! I am not looking at the camera, and doesn’t it look artsy?” Okay, I cannot help but literally LOL, as I read my previous sentence, knowing that this is an extremely tall order, and that most of us are guilty of this. Present company included. The idea of using oneself, as the subject in photography, has taken place since the early days of the medium, as seen in Robert Cornelius’ daguerreotype self-portrait created in 1839. Not to mention theatrical works by Cindy Sherman, as she embodied various personas, or Francesca Woodman, by creating intriguing images of herself interacting with the environment around her. Now, in the twenty-first century, second by second, the photography world is only getting bigger and more crowded, as more and more people use this medium for self expression.

Maia Flore is an artist I had the pleasure to meet during a portfolio review a few years back. While she is not creating a selfie, per se, she is using herself as the subject in her photography. Characteristics that draw me to her work, is her playful interaction within her environments, attention to nuance, minimal propping, and the fact that, we the viewer, rarely see her identity. All of these elements come together to create a harmonious composition that appear simple and effortless. In an earlier piece, from her Situations series, a dirt path, placed in the center, divides the scene and leads the viewer’s eye to Flore, who is wearing a red dress, as she holds her body up with and arched back, to cradle part of the sky. The negative space in-between her back and the landscape alludes to a setting sun. In her photograph, “St. Jean,” Flore has her back to the viewer, while in standing in a sandscape, with arms extended and her attire is perfectly color blocked to appear she is part of the landscape. I am excited to see what Flore will dream up next in her future bodies of work. In the meantime, I will keep up on her Instagram to see if she will give any sneak peeks.
—Danny Sanchez