Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

Tag: dreams

Maggie Taylor’s Flights of Fancy

Maggie Taylor’s flights of fancy are a strange enchantment.


The Pretender

Her images seem to live outside the boundaries of time and space, merging the fantastical with the familiar.

Night gardeners.

Night Gardeners

They’re so engaging, they carry an almost hallucinatory power.

Maggie Taylor, Animal Dreams, 2010

Animal Dreams

At Yale, Maggie Taylor majored in philosophy. Four years later she pursued a Masters degree in photography. I wonder what pushed her to make such a dramatic change?


But Who Has Won

If philosophy is concerned with the search for universal truths, then perhaps Maggie discarded the abstractions of the mind to realize her own, more concrete “truths.” It’s her version of mind over matter – while her images reveal a vivid imagination, lurking in the background is a highly whimsical intellect. Even if we can’t completely decipher its meaning, each image seems to present a telling moment from some half-remembered dream.

wakeful rabbit

Wakeful Rabbit

Still, her flights of fancy don’t arrive full blown, rather they evolve. Maggie explains, from an interview in OC Art Blog:


Maggie Taylor

“Many times I am starting to work on images and I don’t have an idea of what the finished piece is going to be and they grow out of my own internal dialogue as I’m working. I might have a dream, I might have some little bit of a memory, or some little bit of a story running around in my head that gets filtered into the work. It’s really kind of random and I never know as I am working what I am going to end up with.”

Disappearing Witness

Disappearing Witness

When I first saw Maggie Taylor’s work I immediately thought of Joseph Cornell’s “tiny dreamlike universes” lovingly assembled in glass-encased worlds.

The Art of Happiness

Joseph Cornell, “The Art of Happiness”

Joseph Cornell "Medici Princess"

Joseph Cornell, “Medici Princess”

While the parallels are there, Cornell’s pieces are literally preserved under glass, making the work a little more removed. By contrast, Maggie’s imagery seems more present and inviting. Both she and Cornell were fascinated by nostalgic images of the past – he worked with the physical objects, she scans them into her computer. As Maggie describes:

6a00e553ed7fe1883301157256bb63970b-800wi“I collect stuff, all kinds of things. I collect old photographs, I collect old toys, I collect bits and pieces of fabric and I scan them in or photograph them if they won’t fit on the scanner… Then I make tons and tons of layers in a Photoshop file and put them all together, so it’s a digital collage… The whole process is very slow and I seem to only make ten or twelve images in an average year.”

Here’s an excellent video about Maggie Taylor’s flights of fancy:

Maggie Taylor Artist Video from VERVE Gallery of Photography on Vimeo.

I find her work uncluttered, spare and graceful – which is a real accomplishment given how easy it is to add and manipulate images via Photoshop. Typically, each piece draws your eye to one prominent image, even as you become aware of those whimsical touches lurking in her lush backgrounds.


The burden of dreams

It’s hard to categorize her work. Yes, there’s a dreamlike nostalgia and an ironic formality. But there’s also a sense of humor that invites you in to share the joke. I like her sense of the absurd that hovers around these images… and the playful reminder they offer not to take life too seriously.


So what do you think? Do you like her work? Leave a comment and let me know.

The Stuff of Dreams

Mid-20th century America was an expansive time. With the promise of adventure just over the horizon, the lure of the open road seemed to capture a restless spirit. That need for speed was personified by the motorcycle… inspiring some iconic images.


Steve McQueen “The Great Escape”


Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda “Easy Rider”

Here’s one of those icons that launched it all… an impossibly cool Marlon Brando and his bad-boy dream-machine.


Marlon Brando from “The Wild One”

“The Wild One” hit the movie screens in the early fifties and has been firing imaginations for decades, as the motorcycle’s mystique – saying the hell to convention and blazing off into the sunset – became the stuff of dreams, glory and unfettered youth.

James Dean

James Dean

But as the years go by, dreams often get postponed by the little routines of life. They become hard to revive and can dissipate in the fog of memory. Maybe it’s just part of the human condition… or maybe not.

Because without our dreams, what do we have? They offer the hope of one day reaching that destination or finally finding what we’ve been searching for.

They inspire us, conjure the impossible and propel us into action. I’d like to show you a little video that’s all about dreams. It was made in Taiwan for a Taiwanese audience, yet there’s something about it that reaches beyond culture, age and expectation. Millions of people have seen it… see what you think.

The cultural differences make it hard to catch all the visual nuances, so you might want to watch it again. While you may find it a little overly dramatic, in Asia – according to creative director Jennifer Hu – a sad story carries a lot of power. You can read more about the commercial’s impact here.

What works so well about this piece is that everything that’s important is conveyed through the visuals, making it a great example of visual storytelling. The words are almost superfluous, other than the questions at the beginning that propel the action and the answer at the end.  Here’s the open and closing text:

Based on a true story.

What do people live for? To miss someone?

To keep living? To live longer? Or, to leave?


What do people live for?


For ordinary people with extraordinary dreams.
TC Bank | 大眾銀行

It all pays off in the end, with that John Cusack moment when one of the bikers holds up the picture of his departed comrade, as if to will him back to life… and defy the setting sun that symbolizes their waning days. In that proud gesture we see the triumph of the human spirit. And that is the stuff that powers our dreams.