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For the sake of making the images she desires, Sellios allows chaos to erupt in her tidy studio. Gallons of wine have met the aged hardwood floor, and her shelves have been filled with gutted fish and bloodstained creatures to satisfy her specific vision. Stemware shrapnel sticks to once-white linen, and pollen from the lilies drops into oyster shells, mixing with red wine and a touch of seawater. The mess is only temporary, though. For each image Sellios arranges the subjects in a very precise way, generating what may seem like disorder in the gathering and setup. Yet, ultimately, the pieces find their designated homes within her frame. Once the image is created, she keeps the imperishable items and disposes of the rest. She reminds me of a hunter who gathers and feasts on her prey but washes her plate immediately afterward in anticipation of the next banquet. The hunt is no easy task, however. Oftentimes sketches will exist long before she acquires the materials to make it, initiating a quest for a very particular set of structures in her space. We look at a painting of two skulls surrounded by lilies that has lived on her studio wall for a while now. She says that she is waiting to make this one, explaining



that there is a hold up on receiving additional skulls due to some mold on their necks. Her journey now becomes a meeting of aesthetics within human and Mother Nature. Dependent on others who have interest in collecting—butchers, sommeliers, and fishermen—her series becomes infused with collaboration and results in her forming significant relationships with others. A postcard hangs above her desk that reads, “I thought great artists had great compassion for people.” This and all of her surroundings serve as a reminder for gratitude and mercy while Sellios works. Her imagery walks a thin line between deep romanticism and vulture-like darkness. Viewing Sellios’s series from Lessons of Impermanence to Impulses, we take an emotional journey that moves through vulnerability and fragility to dominance and codependence. Nuzzling goat skulls, entwined octopi tentacles, skeletons, and freshly slaughtered forms all convey personalities in their postures and gazes. What seems to be initially expressed as grotesque and predatory becomes relational and intimate, part of a love story. A shark’s jawbone leans casually


Tara Sellios Photo: Frances Jakubek Opposite

Untitled No. 6 (from the series Luxuria) 2013

Don't Take Pictures Issue 3  

Don’t Take Pictures is a biannual print, online & tablet-ready magazine that celebrates the creativity involved with the making of photograp...

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