Thursday, November 2, 2017

Photographer Vanessa Filley on The Lisa D Show

Photographer Vanessa Filley's art tells the stories of today, the past and a future imagined. Storytelling through her photography, Filley builds engaging, inviting and sometimes eerie images with visually compelling collaborators … her children and her friend's children.

In this interview we walk through several of the pieces from her upcoming show “A Nursery Rhyme For You” opening Nov. 4, 5-8 p.m., at Perspective Gallery in Evanston, up thru Nov. 26. If you don’t make it, check out her work online at

This interview is candid, inviting the listener into Filley’s artistic process and beautiful mind. I am grateful to know artists like this who make Evanston a more interesting and beautiful place to live.
More Info: A Nursery Rhyme For You

As a child some weekends we visited my grandparents in a farmhouse of decaying grandeur in New Jersey and other weekends we’d stay home and traipse through the halls of great New York City museums.  I always imagined how these places could be different, how they were a portal to another time, an imagined life.  In the attic of my grandparents home there were dust covered steamer trunks filled with ballgowns while the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art offered a glimpse into the interiors of early American homes. I dreamt of wearing these ballgowns and living in a different era, but despite my dreamy nature I never got much beyond dress-up in shoddy 1970’s halloween costumes.  

As the mother of two girls with fanciful imaginations in an era when unfettered childhood fantasy is interrupted or negated by an abundant access to technology I have sought to preserve and create for my daughters a little bit of the magic I longed to have brought into my own childhood while avoiding much of the contemporary child’s play market and trying to impart an honest sense of the world we live in today.

I find great inspiration in anything from fairytales to the primal relationships between humans and nature to current events. Every fairytale has a dark side, the death of a parent, the loss of a power and in an era of social and political upheaval and environmental degradation, the dreams and fantasy of a child are effected and shaped by the external forces buzzing in the world around them. In A Nursery Rhyme for You My Dear I am attempting to both create a child-like fantasy world and to allow the harshness of reality to seep in.  When I make an image I am very interested in exploring it’s underbelly.  It may look pretty on the outside, but perhaps there is more to it.  I want to both dwell on and delete some of the darkness in any given scenario, to try on a story for size, to understand what it might be like to exist in that moment and how to learn from it, but also leave it behind, as if in a dream.


The Lisa D Show" is a podcast celebrating creatives, featuring 20-minute, unedited conversations that mimic the live-radio vibe, very low tech on purpose. Reach out to host Lisa Degliantoni at thelisadshow[at]

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