Animal X-rays, human X-rays, mammograms, and ultrasound radiographs as well as DNA sequencing gels and radiographs of cells growing in Petri dishes augment the artistic vocabulary that I use to create brightly colored digitalized giclee prints.
Ripped and cut radiographic fragments of bones, organs and DNA research studies are reorganized, and then pasted into collages. These X-ray collages are photographed on light boxes to accentuate their transparency. Next, the photographs are digitally manipulated. Sometimes compositions are computer enhanced by changing the scale of existing imagery, or by drawing new imagery into the composition. Subsequently, colors are digitally added.
The results of these endeavors produce brightly colored digitally printed collages. Their high intensity pallet and unusual imagery bring to mind the work of Pop artists such as Warhol. Contemporaneously, their vibrant hues and images mimic the saturated colors in today's fashion and commercial advertising industries.
I have deliberately preserved notations on the X-rays written by medical researchers. These recall the lettering on papier colles by Picasso and Gris, and written forms on paintings by Miro and Basquiat. Like the work of these artists, the notations on my X-ray collage prints make associations with people, places, and atmospheres. These writings simultaneously emphasize the flat surface of the printed image. Ultimately, I have combined time honored techniques such as collage, drawing, and printing with the newest advances in computer technology to compose and print my X-ray collages.
I also find these images rich in metaphorical connections. X-rays modulate from opaque to transparent; darkness to light. They address the human's relationship to animals by comparing their skeletal similarities. X-rays also serve as metaphors for the human condition. Furthermore, they investigate the interior body synecdochically, and imply a mental and spiritual life.
Of course, there may be other artists, unknown to me, who use X-rays in their artwork. As far as know, I am the only artist who has created multiple series of artworks using X-rays. Two anonymous X-rays, dated 1910 and 1917, are in MOMA's photography collection. Man Ray's Rayographs from the 1920's could be considered precursors to my work. A few well known artists include a single X-ray image in their portfolios: Robert Rauschenberg's Booster was made in 1969; Meret Oppenheim's X-ray of M.O.'S Skull is dated 1964; Annie Leibowitz's MRI of Laurie Anderson is dated 1994. I am aware that lesser known artists have printed X-rays of flowers After using X-rays in my artwork for over twenty years, I still remain intrigued by their innate, mysterious beauty: luscious light to dark value changes and contrasts; illuminated transparent sections transition to opaque ones; an artist's potential vocabulary of curiously shaped bones and organs. Neither fish nor fowl, my boldly colored giclee prints of X-ray collages may not be conventionally beautiful. Nor do they do not meet the standard categorizations of photography such as portraiture, documentary, or landscape. However, they do bridge an Art /Science time continuum: they bring together a discovery of the X-ray from the 1898 realm of science and medicine into the 2008 realm of contemporary art. They fit into the current art world of fluid stylistic boundaries and appropriated materials. Whatever their genre, I believe these images are unique and beautiful.
CHESHIRE — For more than two decades, Lois Goglia has been using medical X-rays, CT scans and mammograms to create unique artwork, yet her recent leap into color has her feeling she's still scratching the surface of what the possibilities are, thanks to ever-changing technology in both the various screening mediums and her own inventiveness.
From her primitive early experiments using the raw material of the transparencies and negative images of those diagnostic tools which her veterinarian husband Ed supplied her, Goglia has forged a path of her own producing works that she admits may not appeal to everyone, and, indeed, has had its critics.
"Some of the reviews weren't quite sure it was really artwork, but I was," she says, vindicated by subsequent exhibitions at such venues as the World Trade Center, the New York Hall of Science, Ohio's Butler Museum, Wesleyan University, the Yale Medical School Art Gallery and Peabody Museum, among others. "I came to the conclusion long ago that I didn't wait for people to say my art is good, bad or indifferent. I hope people are generous enough to see it as art."
She believes she's one of few artists working in this medium in this way.
"Currently, there are artists using X-rays, but they tend to be doctors who take X-rays of flowers, natural subjects ... but no one ever used it the way I have," she says.
Goglia's work has taken a major dramatic turn with the use of color, her newest works recently exhibited in "X-Rays: In Living Color" at Visions Toward Wellness Gallery, a Branford gallery with which Goglia has had a strong relationship.
She is quick to credit Charlie Kothari of Photo Communications, Inc. on Willow Street in New Haven, for his partnership in the process of transforming her images to color.
Kothari photographed the images, they conferred on the color selections, which Kothari then manipulated through Photoshop. The images were then put on a light box and Kothari shot them with a high-res camera, changing the size to whatever Goglia wished, based on her sketches.
The thing that's interesting about Goglia's works is that she is using many of the same X-rays and images from decades ago, coaxing them into new works that have their own stories to tell.
The color giclees are vibrant rejuvenations that, Goglia admits, "fit into the current art world of fluid stylistic boundaries and appropriated materials."
One gets the feeling that, while she loves the reincarnations, there's a part of Goglia that isn't entirely comfortable that today's colorized world almost demanded she add color to her work to make them somehow more acceptable.
But, for her, it was another form of expression, evolution.
"I wondered what would happen if I pushed color as far as I could go to juxtapose the sense of anxiety with relief," she says.
But it's walked her down yet another avenue of discovery, and led to several international prizes.
What she sees in these works is a "sense of happiness that transcends the anxiety here," which is why she premiered the works at Visions. "It's about healing."
When one looks closely at the pieces, one can see parts of a mammogram, a bit of spinal column skeleton, forceps, a femur bone, a sonogram image of a baby sleeping peacefully in utero, but they are worked and manipulated into a kind of abstract impressionism.
"If I had shown these first instead of going through the process I did, I don't think it would have had the same impact or the same inspiration for me. That process gave me the freedom to do this," she says.
That journey and process began when Goglia, who's also a talented singer, started taking art courses after her husband finished veterinary school. She studied at Paier College of Art, Creative Arts Workshop, Yale, the University of Hartford, Albertus Magnus, finally earning a fine arts degree and masters in library science from Wesleyan.
She became fascinated with the juxtaposition of using the end result of diagnostic techniques to create new life in a positive form, noting that, "When one looked at an X-ray, it was usually with fear, trepidation; it was associated with anxiety."
That discovery came at a time when Goglia was frustrated with her painting and had actually put away her palette.
"I thought my work was 1980s, highly colored, didn't speak to the contemporary world. I felt I was a competent person doing outdated decorative work, but I really wanted to find something."
Then one day she happened to see the light box in her husband's office with an X-ray on it.
"I saw lines, value, color, texture, shape," she says.
She saw life, and she saw art.
The law requires that veterinarians keep X-rays of deceased animals for seven years, says Goglia. In Ed's office, she found about "25 that were interesting, and I just said someday I'm going to use these. I put them aside and when I got the light boxes I knew this was how I was going to use them."
It started with constructions of canvas, a series called "Healing Figures," collages in which she used bandages, medical pins, sutures, X-rays and tape.
"These are about how people either see parts of the whole, but can't put the parts together," she says, showing a visitor one of the series hanging on the wall of her studio in a home whose grounds feel like an art museum, strewn with Goglia's sculptures and whimsical cable wire-spool pieces inspired by a fight against the electric company's expansion into the neighborhood.
Other early works were monochromatic chiaroscuro-like pieces, meant to be viewed on light boxes, which Goglia admits was a bit of a logistical problem, though "I always wanted to do something with a light box."
Gathering up enough light boxes on which to display her work took nearly a decade of scouring until she serendipitously walked into Hull's Fine Arts and they were selling artist's light boxes for half price. She bought 19.
A local dermatologist gave her gels of DNA sequencing and rolling stem cells in Petri dishes, and again, where some saw cultures and genes, Goglia saw source material.
She saw a connection between the lights and darks, the opaque and transparent, she felt the relationship between humans and animals in comparing skeletal similarities.
Like the cultures growing in those Petri dishes, Goglia started small and advanced to full-size images, showing her first exhibit, "GENESis" at the Tang Museum at her alma mater Skidmore College, and also at the Yale University School of Art, Housatonic Museum of Art and the Peabody Museum.
"How many artists can say I really am enjoying the investigation along the way," asks Goglia. "There are some people who laugh at it, but I'm doing it anyway. This is something I really believe in and I'm going to continue. It's really a journey."
And with an unlimited amount of source material and imagination, the journey continues.