Christopher Marshall has worked as a graphic designer and commercial artist for 35 years. In that capacity, he has worked to meet the diverse needs and creative challenges of corporate marketing clients that need photographic illustrations, special effects and typography as well as layout and design to market technical and biomedical products.
Prior to the digital age, Christopher had “the eye” for form which created his interest in environmental graphics. Initially that interest in shapes and forms led him to train as a studio potter for five years. But he found his love in photography, photo retouching and illustrations, and demonstrated his talent and expertise with large wall graphics.
What makes Christopher unique is his capability to look at what you and I might see as old and ugly – an old ramshackle wooden shed, or a railroad car rusting away on a siding – and he sees bits and pieces of beauty. He can look at the rusting metal and see the three-dimensional texture rising from oxidation and myriad colors of light splashing from the minute cliffs and outcroppings. We see paint flaking and he sees an animal staring at him, or a story being told from a part of a single letter within the crumbling paint. To him, the form is always alive and changing, ever so slowly, but always changing. He captures that moment by photographing the subject, often from a distance of an inch (2 or 3 centimeters).
Christopher’s eye for form is exhibited through another creative means that are rarely, if ever, originally created and displayed using photography: Mandalas.
A Mandala is a circular design containing concentric geometric forms or images, symbolizing the universe, totality or wholeness in the Hindu and Buddhist religions. As a part of psychoanalysis it is a symbol in a dream representing the dreamer’s search for completeness and self-unity.
Christopher delights in taking elements of images and photographically merging them while delving into the depth of each image with extreme detail. The result is that you can view one of his Mandalas from a distance and see the beautiful symmetry of the repetition of imagery as if you were looking through a kaleidoscope. But as you approach the mandala, closer and closer, new images within the image reveal themselves as if you were looking down a hall of infinite mirrors with the detail finally vanishing in the distance.
At a recent art exhibit in Asia, three nationally known photographers looked at his photos and said, “We do not know how to do photography like this.” “I’ve never seen anything like this in our country.”
When the Macintosh computer came along in 1984, I bought one and was instantly consumed with an appreciation for the technology. When Adobe created Photoshop I was in heaven. I am an “old school” trained commercial and fine artist, who loves the “new school”.
Balance, color, texture, structural geometry and the many moods of light have been my constant source of inspiration. There are great energies to be found within these images. That’s what I’ve tried to capture — that thing that made me gasp and say ‘wow’ out loud! The camera is my netto capture those wild and restless photons. It is then, within the digital world that I craft the final refinements.
I’ve been fascinated by the myriad of overlooked abstract art forms that surround us all the time. None is more interesting to me than macro shots of weathered graffiti on time-worn train cars. To see layers of paint and rust combined with the urban artist’s contribution of graffiti (tagging) followed by yet more weathering produces an exciting multi-media wonderland on every box car. Each boxcar side is an energetic, alive canvas, a scarred testimonial to the car’s many travel adventures. Most often I shoot while I’m only inches from the surface of the train. I then craft the captured images using my computer and years of digital imaging knowledge to reveal hidden abstract masterpieces.
Mandalas are intended to bring the viewer to a reflective space within themselves while offering something that is both satisfying and engaging to witness each and every time. My hope is that my mandalas will give some degree of personal insight to the people viewing them. These mandalas are three-dimensional constructions, unlike the traditional two dimensional designs by the Hindus and Buddhists. They’re a 21st century interpretation of a very ancient design form.
“It takes a serious artist with a very good eye to find a Monet in a rusting rail car.” ~ Hal Barnes