Monday, March 9, 2015

The Art of Leonard Nimoy

One week ago, I paid tribute to Leonard Nimoy for what he was best known for. However, it is vital that he be remembered for one of the other numerous roles that he played in life: artist.

At Leonard Nimoy Photography, you can see gallery samples of Nimoy's photographic art. From the website previously linked:

"He [Nimoy] studied at UCLA under Robert Heineken in the early 1970s and later received an “artist in residence” appointment at the American Academy in Rome.
Mr Nimoy’s photography is included  in many museum collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Judah L. Magnes Museum, The LA County Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of NY, The New Orleans Museum of Fine Art and The Hammer Museum."

As you might know by now, I dabble in photography.  This man was no mere dabbler.

He was an artist.

I first learned of his art when Nimoy was a guest on his old friend Bill Shatner's interview program on Biography. On that program, Leonard Nimoy spoke about several of his themed galleries, such as the series of self portraits that he shot (see above). There were, however, two subjects that really caught my interest.

One was called The Full Body Project. There is a gallery of photos from this project at the link and I will let you seek them out for yourself as they are NSFW. The Full Body Project was a series of black and white compositions featuring fuller figured women. The images spark questions as to what conventional society deems as "beautiful" in regard to the female body. The women and the photography are stunning and the images speak for themselves, but I would like to post an excerpt from Nimoy's artist statement on the subject:

"With these new images, I am now hearing different words. Sometimes "beautiful," but with a different sub-text. I hear comments, which lead to questions. The questions lead to discussions—about beauty, social acceptability, plastic surgery, our culture and health. In these pictures these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others."

Another even more impressive exhibit was Secret Selves. Nimoy invited a number of individuals from a cross-section of society to the studio. The directions for their appearance were simple: "Come as you are." Not as how society sees you, but who you think you are. Do you have another self that you have never revealed? What is your "other identity?" The results he received were nothing short of amazing. I take extra delight in the woman who showed up dressed as a stegosaurus. I can only imagine how freeing this artistic exercise must have been for those involved. How rare it is that we can really, truly be ourselves. Take a look at Secret Selves at the link.

I write this in tribute and I am glad that Leonard Nimoy left the world so many outstanding achievements with which to remember and celebrate his life. At the same time, going through all of this wide inventory of work has not assuaged my melancholy. It goes away for a while and then I'm all right, then I experience the formication once more and it burrows its way back to the surface. If nothing else, I somewhat feel like the hole is only growing deeper. This will diminish in time, I know. I will eventually only be left with happy memories. 

Until then I just deal with it.

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