Small photographs from travels afar of scenes the normal viewer takes for granted are transformed into abstract, otherworldly places through Ratcliff’s vision and meticulous handwork.
The works in Small Worlds explore the border between photography and drawing, the mechanical and the handmade—between the objective and subjective; always with great sensitivity to framing and cropping, the use of the close-up, and photography’s potential for abstracting details from the world. The finished images show us shimmering, shaking or prismatic views multiplied by glass, rippling water, or filtered through shadow. Some are straight photos, others have been de-natured, transferred, and scrupulously re-created by hand. It is often difficult to tell which is which.
Mary Curtis Ratcliff began taking pictures when she was very young; looking back on this vast archive it is clear to her that she has always been inspired by natural phenomena. “What I choose to focus on, photograph and make into finished compositions comes from constantly looking at natural forms. I intuitively seek out images that represent peace, stillness, and mysterious complexity.” Ratcliff received her degree in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited in over 20 solo and 100 group shows. Her work is in more than 80 private collections including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco - Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts and the Oakland Museum of California.