Sept. 30 2009 12:00 AM

Photographer shares botanical visions in scanned collages

Kim Kauffman’s artwork starts in the garden. Flowers, leaves and maybe a branch or a feather she finds on the ground are collected and scanned, before she settles down at her computer, puts on some music (jazz and world music help her get into the “creative zone”) and starts combining the scans into a collaged work of art.

“I put some music on and relax, and before I know it, I’m in the zone. I’m evolving that image and reacting to whatever I’m creating,” she said.

These botanically themed images make up Kauffman’s “Florilegium” project, a series of scanned collages she began in 1998.

Much of the plant life of “Florilegium” comes from Kauffman’s personal garden in downtown Lansing. She thinks having gardens and green spaces is important, particularly in a city, and she hopes to convey her feelings about nature in her work. “I want to show plants and flowers in a way that is different than what you would see in a garden magazine or a textbook,” she said. “I want it to not just be a straight document but more evoking feelings that I feel when I’m out working in the garden.”

“Florilegium” is one series of Kauffman’s work to be displayed at the Turner-Dodge on Sunday, Oct. 4, during a one-day exhibit dedicated to local photographers. Kauffman, who is the featured artist for the show, will also bring prints from her other series, like “Illumitones,” a project done with a similar scanned-collage technique, but made with paper and meant as a study of composition, not subject.

Michael Beebe, vice president of the Friends of the Turner-Dodge house, has been coordinating art shows at Turner- Dodge for three years, and he said he has wanted to do a show with Kauffman for a long time. “Kim Kauffman is probably one of the more popular commercial photographers in the area,” Beebe said. “She’s a very talented artist and very well known, and she does a lot of cool stuff with nature.”

Kauffman’s interest in photography was passed down from her father, an amateur photographer, who gave her one of his old cameras. “He taught me about black and white film processing and printing and kind of sent me on my way,” she said. “So while I was at MSU studying something completely different, I was learning on my own, and I just got more and more interested in it. I felt like the darkroom was magic.”

After graduating college, she began working in Lansing Community College’s then new photo department, where she worked for several years as the program grew. She then worked as an assistant for a commercial photographer before starting her own commercial studio in 1983.

Her abstract personal work is what she said initially drew her to the medium, and ongoing projects, like “Florilegium,” bring out her creativity the most. Other art forms, like music, dance and poetry, come together to inspire this work, and she said many of the names she gives her pieces are derived from these forms.

“All different art forms, whether twodimensional art forms, like painting, or music or dance or poetry, I take it all in, and it affects me in some way and helps inform the work that I make,” she said. “When I have a new body of work, the last thing I need to do is give them names, so we sit down and think about what mood they might evoke and eventually the names come out.”

Kauffman said some of her friends have started looking at their gardens differently after seeing her botanical work. Sometimes they send her pieces of their gardens they think she could use in a picture. She wants new viewers to be similarly inspired. “I hope from looking at the ‘Florilegium’ work that they’ll see things in plants that I have photographed, some things they hadn’t really noticed before, and then they’ll go back out and look at the real thing a little more closely, a little more appreciatively,” she said. “I hope they just spend a little time getting trapped in my images.”

‘The Fine Art of Photography’

Featuring works by Kim Kauffman, Roger Frye, Tom Conner and John Korneman One day only: Noon – 5 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 4 Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center, 100 E. North Street, Lansing (517) 483-4220