Delaware artist’s camera is a doorway to ‘little worlds’ [video]

Alida Fish was given a camera as a child to capture her world. Now through her art, she creates worlds of her own.

Alida Fish comes from a long line of artists, “My sister is a painter, my mother was a sculptor, my grandfather was a painter.” Alida’s family realized early on she wasn’t going to be that kind of artist, so they gave her a camera.

She used that camera to take pictures of her world. She would make “these sort of environments out of old tree roots and things.”

Later, Fish would attend college, following a different path from art. “I thought I would get involved with finance and something totally different.”

While on a vacation in North Carolin, she went to the Penland School of Crafts and took a workshop in photography. “I ended up coming back and staying there for two years.”

Fish says she, “got a good education in photography,” and after that went to graduate school for photography.

Her work falls into the fine art category now, but at first she wanted to be and do something different. “It was never satisfying. I tried a number of different things and I just kept coming back to art,” Fish said.

“When I went to Penland and had this long sort of immersion in photography, that was it, I never went back.”

To create her “little worlds,” Fish uses items she finds interesting. “I create these little worlds, and I always have ever since playing as a child making up these sort of environments.”

While traveling or just out in nature she is always looking at plants. “I love it when I’m outdoors and I see something that I think is really beautiful, and can be transformed through photography.”

For fish, these everyday objects you may take for granted while on a stroll come to life for her. “If I photograph a plant a frog or anything, I think of them sort of portraits, and they’re very alive to me.”

The process to create these worlds is long and may not even yield a good result. “I may only get one of these out of like 12,” Fish said.

She takes a big sheet of aluminum and sands it down. She then puts that aluminum into a tub with chemicals and puts a piece of rusty steel on top of it. After the metal reacts with each other and gives the effect she is looking for she transfers the image she has photographed, the ink to the metal. There are several more steps in between- it’s a long process.

But for Alida Fish the work isn’t just a part of her life, it is her life.

“Part of what makes my life worth living is doing this work. It keeps me sane, I’m not about to stop.”

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