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.