Untitled  from A Decadent World, Topiary Garden | Sublimation Print on Aluminum | 24" x 30" | 2014

Untitled from A Decadent World, Topiary Garden | Sublimation Print on Aluminum | 24" x 30" | 2014


Artist Statement: I am at once perplexed by and in awe of the relationship between animals and humans and the myriad ways human cultures use, abuse, fear, love, and revere animals. From the absurd to the divine, I explore the relationship of human to animal to ponder the human connection to nature. I sculpt with confectionary materials to explore the transformative relationship that exists between culture and nature—sugar is grown (nature), processed and transformed (culture) into symbols of decadence, frivolity, abundance and celebration. The forms I create begin with rice cereal treats that I mold into animal and topiary forms. I cover them with royal icing and fondant, and decorate them with more royal icing. I paint/frost the skies using royal icing and a spatula. I use green sanding sugar to make the grass, and pipe royal icing to make hedges and leaves that become topiary creatures. I arrange the animal forms on a miniature tableau, carefully light, sometimes add fog using a fog machine, and then make the photograph with a 4x5 camera with a digital back.


Mara Trachtenberg received her BA in English and Women’s Studies from the University of Rhode Island and her MFA in photography from the University of Connecticut. She has exhibited her work nationally, most recently having solo shows at The University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI, The Sarah Doyle Gallery at Brown University in Providence, RI, and Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford, MA. Currently her work is part of a yearlong (9/2015) public photography exhibition in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, NY entitled Personal Mythologies, curated by United Photo Industries. Mara is an adjunct professor at the Community College of Rhode Island and President of the Hera Gallery, in Wakefield, RI. Her work can be viewed at: www.maratrachtenberg.com.