Known for her innovative style, Maggie Taylor’s technique includes the use of a flatbed scanner instead of a traditional camera to record and interpret the objects she collects. She frequent flea markets and searches on eBay for old tintypes and toys that seem to have a story to tell. Then in her studio she makes small pastel drawings as backgrounds and scans each element into her computer separately. Using Photoshop she is able to arrange and play with these layers in much the same way that she worked with objects in her studio for a still life photograph. She works very spontaneously and intuitively, trying to come up with images that have a resonance and a somewhat mysterious narrative content. There is no one meaning for any of the images, rather they exist as a kind of visual riddle or open-ended poem, meant to be both playful and provocative.
Although her images are not traditional photographs, she thinks of her scanner as a light-sensitive recording device, and there is a camera involved in making most of the images, it just happens that the camera was used over 100 years ago by a photographer who remains anonymous. Sometimes people are confused about her digital images and think that they are somehow reproductions of work that exists originally in some other form. She thinks of them as "digital originals" since they are created in her computer using a scanner and they do not exist on film.
She does not photograph people, she recycles 19th century unclaimed photographs of unknown people. Every once in a while she uses a 35 mm point-and-shoot camera to collect bits of background material. When the image is finally done, which is a slow process and can take weeks or even months, she starts to make proofs and then finished prints in editions of 40. Her final prints are made on an Epson inkjet printer on a paper that gives the texture and look of a print or watercolor.
Maggie Taylor received her BA degree in philosophy from Yale University in 1983 and her MFA degree in photography from the University of Florida in 1987. After more than ten years as a still-life photographer, she began to use the computer to create her images in 1996. Her work is featured in Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor’s Landscape of Dreams, published by Adobe Press in 2005; Solutions Beginning with A, Modernbook Editions, Palo Alto, 2007; and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Modernbook Gallery Editions, San Francisco, 2008. Taylor’s images have been exhibited in one-person exhibitions throughout the U.S. and abroad and are in numerous public and private collections including The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and The Museum of Photography, Seoul, Korea. In 1996 and 2001 she received State of Florida Individual Artist’s Fellowships. In 2004 she won the Santa Fe Center for Photography’s Project Competition. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.
“I create images, and that is much more important to me than explaining what the images mean. There is just no telling what they mean to other people anyway. Things used in my images include 19th century photographic portraits, scans of small objects, photographs taken by me out and about in the real world. Most days I sit at the computer for hours and rearrange layers in Photoshop. I might find something interesting in the garden while I am taking a break from my computer. I might put it on the scanner. Making these images takes a long time; they are stubborn and do not want to leave until they are ready. People who think that working digitally is easy and quick are wrong.” Maggie Taylor