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COCA Spotlight: Photographer’s everyday objects bloom into surreal images

By: Amanda Sieradzki, COCA | December 17, 2018

Abstract photographer Carter Magar peers through her camera lens to adjust the manual focus. Like a curious alchemist, she is surrounded by open Chinese takeout sauce packets, watered down acrylic paints, food dye and dish soap. Magar transforms this unusual potion of liquids into psychedelic swirls of color and texture.

“I enjoy photographing everyday things and turning them into something really uncommon,” shares Magar.

At just 18 years old, Magar debuts her abstract photography at Photofest 2018, which can be viewed at the Artport Gallery through Jan. 14. Curated by the Council on Culture & Arts for the Art in Public Places Program, this year’s exhibition features fine art photographs by forty local artists. Magar is ecstatic for the opportunity to continue building her career as a photographer and artist.

Her grandfather was her first inspiration as he specialized in caricatures and made her homemade coloring book pages. In school Magar was always an avid drawer, painter, and sculptor, and says it was photographing her 3D work that got her into the medium. At SAIL High School she was eager to deepen her studies with the support of her parents and teachers. Her mentors at school encouraged her to push the envelope and Magar soon fell in love with darkroom photography.

“It was such a unique experience to work with film in a digital age and it was something that pushed me and kept me going because it was so new to me,” says Magar.

After graduating from SAIL, Magar pursued commercial photography at Lively Technical Center. There, she became immersed in learning every inch of her camera and getting hands-on experience working with different techniques. However, a shift slowly began to occur and Magar found she wasn’t as passionate about taking portraits or photographing in a studio environment as she was taking fine arts photos.

Magar will enroll at Tallahassee Community College in January with sights set on becoming an art teacher or art therapist. She’s focused now on abstract images and finds that she can never get close enough to her subject. The furthest she’s gone for a shot placed her upside-down and hanging out of a tree with her camera nearly touching the surface of a lake. Another project that explored nightmarish images taught her an important lesson about photographing in public spaces.

“I had my boyfriend put on a gold mask, cover himself in a sheet, and get into a bush,” describes Magar. “This poor woman came running by with her dog and was so alarmed. I carry a little sign now that says photographing in progress and to get people’s attention and explain what is going on.”

Magar admits that some of her best work is done while buried in seemingly random objects. While the untrained eye sees

clutter, she sees magic in the everyday and will flip her perspective to find something new or interesting in something as simple as a plastic water bottle.

Growing up, her mother worked with stained glass, and subsequently the family’s garage would be filled will geometric glass shards in boxes. Seeing the light catch these shards inspired Magar’s glass composites where she takes shadows of light bulbs and other translucent objects to create surreal images. Her studio is a treasure trove of found and used supplies.

Read the rest of the story by visiting the Tallahassee Democrat

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