Lorraine Triolo: Documenting People Who Look Like Art
Los Angeles Art Association, Los Angeles
May 11 to June 14, 2019
Written by Genie Davis
Artist Lorraine Triolo will be exhibiting her photographic images in a solo show, People Who Look Like Art at LAAA on May 11th. On the same day, Triolo is debuting a book of the same title – both book and exhibition depict gallery and art fair attendees whose attire mirrors, mimics, or disappears into actual art works. While the work is vibrant and fun, the composition is stellar: graceful, humorous, and unexpected. Triolo creates a sense of the magical, of individuals who are literally inhabiting works of art, or appear as if they have stepped out of or into them.
The book features over a hundred images, and is produced as a limited edition of 300 signed copies. The exhibition, which is open to all, is not as vast, but features lush and lovely works that vibrate with color and the pleasure of serendipitous illusion.
Triolo says the series evolved because she’d spent a great deal of time at art shows and fairs, accompanying her artist husband, JT Burke, who was showing his own work.
“I started to notice how often the people that attend these art events unexpectedly looked like the art they were near, and I started to document it.” Triolo says she did not initially think of herself as a photographer when she started this series. “In fact, early photos were all shot on my cell phone. Most of my past work has been sculpture and collage, but I have done a fair amount of videography and spent most of my life working as a stylist and photo editor, so I feel comfortable enough in this medium.”
The collection began in 2015, and has since grown to include almost 500 images. “I started an Instagram account and thought that was the perfect place to show them, but people were always saying it would make a great book, too. My husband and I worked together to design and produce it. All of the proceeds from this book will go to the Los Angeles Art Association for all the incredible work they do for emerging LA artists,” she explains.
The photos are filled with a joyous energy, with a vibrant palette that befits the art depicted and the pleasure the participants evidently have in the project. Triolo asserts “I think the energy in these photos comes from the quick shooting process – most are taken at crowded events and only take a minute or two to shoot. And it really helps that art fans tend to be creative souls who can strike a pose quickly – and with flair.”
The rapidity of taking the photos matched up with her own rapid process in approaching attendees to pose in the first place.
“The decision to stop someone and ask if they will pose for a photo needs to be quick and decisive,” she stresses. “Most people are not just standing in front of the art, so as they move past it, I have to quickly decide whether to approach them or not. If I approach them and it’s not quite a match, it can be awkward; and if it’s a great match and I don’t stop them in time, it’s a lost moment. Because it’s all so spontaneous, I believe that the photos have a free-spirited feel to them.”
They also have a contagious joy. It would be hard not to smile viewing them.
“Most people think these images are set up or planned, but they are all a product of chance, luck, and nerve. Not everyone will stop to pose for a photo – sometimes there will be collectors, artists or dealers that don’t want to pose in front of someone else’s work. People often think the person in the photo is the artist, but that’s only true one percent of the time. It’s much more satisfying when the picture is a product of true luck or chance,” she asserts.
Triolo says she’s always loved people-watching, and believes that “sometimes the people at art events can be as dazzling as the art itself.”
She has a sharp eye for pairing people and paintings; there is a definite kinetic energy to her work that leaps from the image to the viewer. Her own excitement and pleasure in her work is palpable and transformative. If creating the works included a little bit of spontaneous magic, so does viewing them.
“I get a thrill the moment I spot someone nearly disappearing into a painting. And I like seeing how people are surprised and amused when they realize their connection to the art. Sometimes it feels magical when everything aligns,” she says.
The exhibition not only looks like fun, it afforded the artist a great deal of enjoyment to create, she says. “I love making a connection with people that I may never have met, if not for this project. I even see some of them year after year at various shows. Many of the subjects and artists I continue to keep in touch with through social media. Occasionally, while I’m shooting someone, it can cause a real scene. People assume it’s some sort of performance art, so they start taking photos, too.”
Viewers will have a chance to dive into this scene themselves when Triolo’s show opens next week. Attendees might want to consider dressing to impress.
Los Angeles Art Association at Gallery 825
825 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, 90069