Art and the Selfie: Artist in Residence Barb Vogel

BHS Artist-in-Residence Barbara Vogel

“We’ve taken more pictures in the past two years than we have in the history of photography,” says Columbus artist Barb Vogel, who uses photographic images in her work, along with paint, encaustic, wood carving and more. Not only the numbers of photos but the speed at which we shoot and forget them is notable, she said. “We consume images at such a rate…It’s extraordinary.”

Vogel’s project with Bexley High School students this month as artist-in-residence slows down that process by encouraging students to manipulate and enhance their photos manually, and to make them permanent. Students are turning digital selfies into art by mounting them on wood, colorizing them with pencil, coating them with an encaustic-like gel, and then adding paint in colors that might be inspired by Warhol or Chagall as much as by nature.

Vogel’s two-week residence is the result of a $2,871 BEF grant awarded to BHS art teacher Mabi Ponce de Leon. Through this project, wrote Ponce de Leon in her application, “students will continue an ongoing exploration of combining old and new technologies and seeing the connections in the different media and processes.”

The completed 5 x 7” works will be mounted on painted wood boards in a grid pattern and installed as a permanent exhibit within the school. “This work creates a time capsule of sorts that will allow these students to return to the high school years later and see the project and their own self-images,” wrote Ponce de Leon.

Detail from Barb Vogel’s “Class of 1967,” which incorporates photos from the 1967 Bexleo yearbook. Gift from the artist to the Bexley Education Foundation.