Cig Harvey is an artist whose practice seeks to find the magical in everyday life. Rich in implied narrative, Harvey’s work is deeply rooted in the natural environment, and offers explorations of belonging and familial relationships.
The photographs and artist books of Cig Harvey, have been widely exhibited and remain in the permanent collections of major museums and collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. Cig had her first solo museum show at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway, in the spring of 2012 in conjunction with the release of her monograph, You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012). In 2019 she will have a solo exhibition at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in Maine.
Cig has been a nominee for John Gutmann fellowship, the Santa Fe Prize, and Prix Pictet, and a finalist for the BMW Prize, the Karl Lagerfield Collection at Paris Photo, the Clarence John Laughlin Award and The Taylor Messing Photographic Portrait Prize. In 2017 Cig was awarded the prestigious 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award from Center and in 2018 she was named the 2018 Prix Virginia Laureate, an international photography award.
Cig lives and works in Rockport, Maine.
In the Garden by Vicki Goldberg - Cig Harvey trips the light fantastic in the dark. She dances on the edge of revelation: a sliver of light from a door and a hot pink balloon disclose a child; a vigorous moon drenches the earth with a dazzle of stars. She tends a garden world at night and her camera hones in on radiance, gleam and discoveries hidden in the shadows a hand reaching out, an arm.
For centuries, painters like Georges de la Tour and Willem Claes Heda lit up corners in paintings otherwise drenched in black, but when Alfred Stieglitz took a photograph one dark night in 1898 it was considered a feat. Night photographs have since become commonplace think of Brassai’s Paris de Nuit and O. Winston Link’s midnight trains — but Harvey’s light sources are uncommonly elusive and unexpected, even verging on conundrum, as if in agreement with Louise Gluck’s poem:
“It is not the moon, I tell you. / It is these flowers / lighting the yard.”
Harvey herself says these pictures “mark notations on time passing: A gold birthday cake, seasons changing, fallen deep red apples.” Indeed, nature can outdo clocks as a reminder that time is inexorable. Dusk comes on without fail every evening; day makes a habit of vanquishing night. On occasion, Harvey too relinquishes night in favor of sunlight: a girl in a patterned dress moves through a sunlit orchard that half hides her, binding her into the orchard’s growth; a red chair and a red-painted wall do their best to imitate the brilliance of pomegranate seeds. Yet sometimes even her daylight pictures balk at unlimited sun and court enough mist to baffle the eye instead: obscurity making a hesitant bid for dominance.
In photographs as in life, time moves solely in one direction but light and dark play unaccountable games. For light waltzes across the secrets and surprises of day and night alike, while an ardent and enterprising camera fills in the empty spaces on their dance cards.