Undulating orange waves ripple like hot flames, mimicking the sprawling dunes of the Mojave. The photo, with burning flashes of scarlet and vermilion, evokes a certain kind of nostalgia—memories of growing up in the southwest, a blend of colors and textures all too familiar to desert dwellers.
But the photo isn’t an image of anything you’d find in Nevada. Instead, it’s the result of a series of manipulations and experiments, captured through the lens of Las Vegas native, photographer and artist Ginger Bruner. Her exhibit, Unnatural Landscapes, opened this week inside the Winchester Cultural Center Gallery.
“This show is about the landscape that lives in my head,” Bruner says. “I’m all about light, [and] of course, I’m informed by neon … neon’s my favorite thing.”
As the lead photographer behind the public and online-based art project Our Las Vegas, Bruner is used to documenting the city’s lights and lines. For Unnatural Landscapes, she uses different materials like cellophane and mylar to recreate familiar environments that take on a body, life and story of their own.
The show is also greatly informed by the teachings of Bruner’s grandmother—artist, educator and founder of the Las Vegas Art League, Lucille Spire Bruner.
“She would take us out in the desert when I was a kid and point out that there was nothing brown out there, [that] all these colors existed. So all the colors that are in my show exist in the world around us [and] in Las Vegas. Everything’s got purple and pink and orange—it’s a mixture of all these colors.”
To create the landscapes for her show, Bruner also took inspiration from Las Vegas artist Jennifer Henry. “I asked her if it would be okay to do some stuff with cellophane,” she says. The photographs are a result of Bruner manipulating different pigmented materials through various lenses and arrangements.
“Red is a big part of the show, plus the more delicate colors that you might find out in the world,” Bruner continues. “If you go into the desert near Lake Mead and walk around, you’ll find all the colors that exist in these images in our landscape. It’s just sort of my translation of what lives around us.”
While all the photos in Unnatural Landscapes were taken with a digital camera, Bruner will be teaching a phone photography class halfway through the show’s run. Her goal is to show people that “you can make just as good of art with a phone as you can with a huge camera,” she says. “Every camera is a tool—we all have [them]. Exercise your eyes. It’s more doable now than ever.”
Unnatural Landscapes Through August 24; opening reception: July 28, 5:30 p.m.; Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, 3130 McLeod Dr., 702-455-7340.