My first camera was an Argus 126 cartridge camera my mother purchased with S&H Green Stamps. It was made of off-white plastic and featured a leafy gold filigree pattern on the front and the model name “Lady Carefree” printed large and in script at the top near the viewfinder. It was embarrassing.
Still, I carried that camera everywhere, pointing it at tree branches, blades of grass, and bits of debris. I was looking for secrets, I think, or buried treasure, maybe, that would show me something outside my small hometown, if only for a moment or two.
All that’s left of that Argus is my affection for it and my gratitude for the lifetime of image-making it helped begin. These days, I carry a slightly more sophisticated camera, and I work in a variety of photo-based print media. But my imagery hasn’t really changed.
I’m still truly interested in the overlooked, the ephemeral, and all that grows unmanaged in the physical world. These things still free me in a way, giving me what I need to explore what’s both abstract and representational, meditative and ominous, extremely complex and, sometimes, simply and clearly black and white.
Elise Nicol is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her prints and photographs have been shown in exhibitions hosted by The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA; Buddy Holly Fine Art Center, Lubbock, TX; Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, ME; Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO; Janet Turner Print Museum at California State University, Chico, CA; and Soho Photo, New York, NY, among other venues. Her work is in the collections of The Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID; Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ; Photomedia Center, Erie, PA; Graphic Chemical and Ink Company, Villa Park, IL; and more.