Austin-based artist Ysabel LeMay holds a singular space in the world of fine art photography, with her mystical photo creations. LeMay’s pieces invite, even compel, viewers to come closer, to step into a world where light, mist, fog, water, and life play together.
“Wow!” is the most common reaction to LeMay’s images. It was mine. In fact, WOW stands for Wonderful Other Worlds, and has become something of a tagline for her work. These worlds are full of life and movement, with an intangible quality.
Disclosure: I have known Ysabel LeMay personally for a few years and have admired her art. I recently started working for her doing digital marketing. However, all opinions are my own.
Ysabel LeMay’s Inspiration
LeMay came into photography as a second career, after working in advertising. She strongly felt the need to pursue a more creative path. She took up painting, but once she got hold of a nice camera and headed outdoors, her new passion found her.
Inspired by nature and driven by a compulsion to create, LeMay began taking photos of the natural world around her on long walks through the greenbelt, as well as during her travels around the world. Seeing more to each plant, tree, branch, and bird than meets the eye, she worked to recreate the vivid worlds you can now see printed on photo paper.
LeMay took to the woods with a camera and began playing with the images in Adobe Photoshop. She soon upgraded her equipment and worked toward mastering digital image manipulation. Soon, not only new images, but entire new worlds began to take shape on her screen. Her images look like something you might swim into, a place where a mythical creature may be hiding. Each of her wonderful other worlds can be interpreted by the viewer’s individual vision.
LeMay creates each of her massive pieces over the course of a couple of years. She starts by taking hundreds of photographs in nature. Then she carefully extracts and isolates each image before starting to piece them together with a technique called hypercollage. LeMay begins the work, but finds that images come together on their own. Her artistic intuition simply acts as a conduit in the process.
Exhibitions Around the World
LeMay has created her own niche in the art world. In 2011, she won a place in the New York KiptonART Rising Program. Her photography hangs in the permanent collection at Museum of Photographic Arts and Morris Museum. The hypercollage pieces have appeared in more than 100 exhibitions around the world. Recently, the U.S. Department of State commissioned LeMay to complete a piece for its Art in Embassies program for American Institute in Taiwan.
Woman to Watch
In 2013, LeMay participated in the Texas Biennial. She represented Texas at National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., for its 2015 edition of Women to Watch. In 2017, the Austin-based artist held a solo retrospective show at Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey.
So far in 2018, she has served as a visiting instructor at Santa Fe Photographic Workshop in New Mexico. LeMay also has an upcoming solo show, “Flourish,” at Galerie Bellefeuille in Montreal where she grew up. The Catherine Edelman Gallery has selected two of her massive, intricate pieces for inclusion in Photo London 2018.
A Walk in the Woods
As this Austin artist continues to explore the world around her, we are invited into her prolific imagination with each photographic landscape. WOW is right. As long as nature continues to enrapture LeMay, we can hope she will continue to compose reimagined, fantastic hypercollages.
To see and learn more about Ysabel LeMay, visit her website.
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