Bizarre or trending subjects? Catch a break with our curiosity of the week. Patty Maher likes to play with boundaries. In Elemental, a series oscillating between dream and reality, photography and graphic design, she reveals a dark and sweet poetry.

Patty Maher likes to mix genres. After studying English literature, she started a carrer as a self-taught artist in 2010. The Canadian author defines herself as a visual artist using photography as a medium. As she explains, this is not an insignificant choice: “I like photography for its flexibility and its indulgence. I like to create scenes and pieces which can be modified to suit my whims, through digital editing. I am always experimenting. The physical art is not as flexible.”

To consciously break the rules

Thus, Elemental is a series representative of her work. It could even be its very essence. It was by creating collages with stock photos on New Year’s Eve 2019 that Patty Maher had the idea to do the same with her own images. By mixing the codes of painting, collages and photography, she tries to free herself. “I tried to push beyond the limits of my work, to consciously break the idea of what photography should be. I started working on collages because there is no rule. I also like the way painter play with perspectives, and I wanted to add those elements to my work. With Elemental, I wanted people to notice I was mixing different genres.”

Her literary studies inspired her as well. Her images act as little tales: “I am inspired by my imagination, or something that I have read. I want to help people question a context that is not limited to what they see or perceive: why is the character there? What is their story? What will happen next?” she tells us.

Stylised femininity

True, Patty Maher’s creations may puzzle the viewers. The characters on the photo remains mysterious, existing only through the settings and compositions. In those images, the faces are hidden, never to appear. The artist ventures an enigmatic explanation: “I like to showcase anonymity in my pictures, because, in the end, the characters could be anybody.’

Yet, those characters possess a strong presence, and unique features. Their dresses, their long, colour-saturated hair contrast with the rest of the image. And Patty Maher knows it: “the forms postures and colours are important in my work. I like to use each small element to communicated something. I think it could be called stylised femininity”.

© Patty Maher