Topiary, the art of growing dense, leafy plants by pruning or training them into three-dimensional geometric or animal-like forms, can trace it roots to the ancient Romans. During the 1700s in Europe, topiary gardens were popular among wealthy landowners. The first topiary garden in the United States was created in Rhode Island around the turn of the twentieth century.
These living sculptures have been the focus of photographer Hope Kahn since 2010. Her fascination with evergreen yew clipped into cones, cubes, spirals, and many other shapes has led her to visit and photograph majestic gardens in Maryland, California, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. She is drawn to the poetic nature of topiary gardens and how they enhance the exquisite beauty, mystery, and symbolism of their surreal landscapes.
Kahn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in special education from Rowan University in 1976, and after five years of teaching, she decided to pursue a professional career in photography. She studied at the International Center of Photography in New York City, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at The Maine Media Workshops, formerly the Maine Photographic Workshops, in Rockport.
Geometry In Nature focuses on the symmetry of forms found in beautifully structured gardens and how human interaction with nature can create playful, contemplative, and serene public environments. Kahn’s work has been published in the magazines National Aperture and Philadelphia and is found in numerous corporate collections including Glaxo Smith Kline, Kerner & Kerner, The Rittenhouse Hotel, Sterling Drug Company, and Price Waterhouse.
I look for the darkness in the light, the mystery in the everyday.
I spend my time blending nature and the figure into a narrative for the viewer.
My mind is wandering, wondering, where my next image hides.
I concede to my impulses and instincts to bring mysteries to light.
Safe and Sound
As in a Dream
Beyond the Deep
Places we can go
One Black Hand
Hiding in the Shadows
Let the Winds Blow
On the Edge
When the Spirits Move
In urban and suburban environments, lives are often in the midst of cluttered surroundings bound with constraints of the rapid pace of our society. Our dreams and fantasies provide us with an escape. The concept of returning to nature sometimes breaking free from the bonds that encircle us, inspired me to develop this series of collages. In our dreams there is freedom and an ability to return to natures' beauty. It is upon awakening that I find myself drawn to a deep emotional connection between the earth and ourselves.
These images are from an ongoing collage series titled “Escape.”