Immersive Show

Using the medium of Second Life, I created a different version of layered transparency based on my real life Into the Woods exhibition. I'm finding a curious exhilaration with learning to work in the computer environment to create a space where an avatar may enter and experience, from various points of view visual sensory information. Using the built in cameras in the app to change the way you look at a piece or virtual art allows the viewer to participate in the experience.
I have been pretty excited in general about my SL gallery. My traffic is way up on my website and it's been fun getting to know some of the interesting people in the community. On stage for the next exhibitions at Vividblack Gallery at the SL Hotel Chelsea sim are RL gig poster artist Madpixel in January, SL visual poet Ed Vespucciano in Feb, and virtual art experience The Gracie Kendall Project, an exploration of identity through the lens of real and virtual worlds. All are must sees. Please visit my Vividblack Gallery in SL . You must also have an account and an avatar set up to view the work. Don't worry, it's free. Visit, and get an account m'kay? For announcements for the SL gallery, please click the eyeball in the gallery and join the group. You'll be glad you did. ; )
Thanks to Mykal, Enola and all the fabulous people at the virtual Hotel Chelsea for making such a great sim. Visit for super live music and literary events. Really, I'm not kidding.

Louis XVI

I forgot to post these King Louis XVI pictures. They are from an issue of the LEO on photography. Several local photographers were asked to see the city from their perspective. Lot's of cool stuff. This is my interpretation of what I would show King Louis XVI if he came to Louisville today. Mostly cool things like the bathroom at 21C, art, Chuck Rubin's and the Mag Bar.

Scenes from Dystopia - The Examination

The thought of scrutiny and examination is always an uncomfortable place. Being helpless at the hands of someone you barely know when you are sick or injured is a place where primal fears can invade our thoughts. A gradual regression of humanity could allow certain individuals the capacity to delve into the darkest objectification. A biology laboratory where unchecked experimentation allows people to degenerate into cruelty - human vivisection.

Sinister Humor

I asked my friend to bring up some of his favorite props from his performance art to create a sort of cyberpunk / steam punk look for our shoot. Not only did he bring some great stuff (that I supplemented with a few of my own pieces), but he brought this cool woman with him who was willing to do some studio play. We had a great time and they both brought so much creativity and humor to the process. It's such a pleasure to work with such fun-loving people who have a sense of sinister humor. Totally what I was looking for. More from this night coming in future posts.

Wrapping - Cellophane

I started working on some new wrappings recently. Cellophane makes people look kind of creepy and dead. It wasn't intentional, but I like what it eludes to in a Commodified Human context. It only happens to be that my model was female that night...I'm not going for a "dead girls are hot" kind of vibe, just more a contextual relationship with the other human commodity images.
I see a landscape coming with 5 or 6 bodies in cellophane (men and women), littering the space. Some desolate place where the trash we create is put out of sight but continues to encroach on the natural world. The overall destruction on our identity through corporate greed and whacked American cultural values is killing us all.

The Work is Transforming

Someone has been playing with the Bio Lab Installation. That makes me absolutely ecstatic! It's pretty exciting to think about how these images will change as the installation continues on. I feel like the 3 bears in a good "someones been sleeping in my bed" kind of way. I hope to catch several different stages of this work as it transitions. So go to the gallery and play! I love surprises.

Exibit Opening at Huff Gallery June 10 4-6pm

Into the Woods Photographic Prints and Installation by Mary Yates
I have always had a secret desire to become lost in the deep woods at night. To hear the rustling of animals, smell the fertile earth, and to feel my heart quicken as perhaps I catch a brief glimpse of the hidden world that exists beyond my safety and touches the place where magic is born. The thought makes me feel giddy, alive and even a bit apprehensive. With all my senses engaged and not knowing the outcome, I could venture forth and really feel what it is like to be human and truly alive with limited defenses and no connection to the safety of a warm home with locked doors.

The ways we have distanced ourselves from nature is truly heartbreaking. We all now live in our shoebox cages and most of us visit nature only when we need “sport” or “recreation”. As urban sprawl encroaches on more and more wild lands these magical spaces are disappearing at an alarming rate. We are so fearful of the woods and the wild beasts that roam that we have insulated ourselves in subdivisions and strip malls. We call the wildlife management service when a “nuisance” animal encroaches on our tidy little plastic world and spray chemicals on our lawns to create uniformity that feels safe because we have lost our way and become fearful. I believe that this disconnection to our wild lands is one of the most devastating signs of how unhealthy our planet has become.

Through this work, I hope that people will realize that the woods are a treasure, a place of magic and beauty, and essential to our success as a species. I hope that visitors to this exhibit will experience, in a small way, how it might feel to be immersed in a living world where we can revive our connection to our to our planet and our responsibility to her.

The images were gathered in Kentucky at Wolf Pen Branch Mill Farm (part of the River Fields conservation easement) and at Bernheim Forest.

Please visit River Fields at or the Nature Conservancy at for more information about how you can help protect our land and natural resources.

Opening Reception Wednesday, June 10th 6-10pm at the Huff Gallery at Spalding University

More Wrapping - Center for Women and Families - National Crime Victims' Rights Week

In continuance of my Commodification project, I am working with the Center for Women and Families on awareness raising for National Crime Victims' Awareness Week. This was a performance and photo shoot on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, KY. Ron Jasin is my second shooter for the images that I am in. Check out more information on the Center for Women and Families project, visit

Microscopic Self Portrait

As a child I remember watching Carl Sagan on PBS take all the elemental ingredients of life and put them together in a big slurry of potential. The result was not life, but a sticky mess of iron, protein, carbon and other key elements. It was the first time I remember thinking “What are we?” I believe reflection on that question is one of the fundamental commonalities that all human beings experience.
In this piece I am contemplating the science and nature of my existence, from what I had for dinner last night to the corpuscles that feed my vision and the nerve endings that provide me the sensory experience of pleasure and pain. All these small pieces somehow converge to create a depiction of me, but they are really just iron, protein, carbon, etc. The piece is an extreme form of navel-gazing and while the sums of my parts are represented, they do not accurately portray the whole. In a world where we are used to following recipes and formulas, it defies logic.

American Gothic

Another image with masks and slightly different coloring. I can't wait to see these printed out large. Someone commented that these mask image reminded them of a modern antique version of American Gothic. Maybe, but I like to think of it as a hybrid between the Chinese and Russian myths of the woman of the snow or frost. It has a more fairytale feel to me. I also want to give thanks to Terry Wunderlich for the super masks.

Dirty Soft

Another image from the recent set. I am constantly amazed at how wonderful my friends are for playing along with my crazy ideas. I'm so lucky to have this energy in my photographs. I think there is a real advantage to a playful approach to staging photos, everyone brings something unexpected to the experience. We play together, we create and I get to indulge my voyeuristic nature. Lucky me! Thanks guys!

Another Image from the Saturday Shoot

Another image from the shoot the other night. A friend whose work I admire suggested I play a little with colors, so I left a hint of the feather and eye color on this image and also used the ochre of the feathers to dirty the image up. Thanks for the suggestion and I'm curious what you all think. I believe the other image has a more sinister quality where this is more tranquil, but still out of the ordinary. More to come!

Recent Studio Work

I had some friends over last Saturday night for drinks and some casual head shot portraits evolved into some more complex play in the studio. I'm so happy with the new pieces and have started processing them in this dirty, antique-looking style. There is something in the aesthetic of old photographs that really appeals to me and I try to bring that into my work. Since I can't be in the darkroom printing tintypes right now, I like working with this digital conversion that is reminiscent of cracked old photos found in the corner of an attic. I like the creepy quality the mask gives to the woman and the stoic look of the man.

I understand that there is a certain morbidity to my work and have struggled with the appeal of main-stream single image photographs. As much fun as it is to make a beautiful image and to have people respond to the "pretty", I think that embracing my shadow self is truly where my most creative and exciting possibilities reside.

A few samples of this work will be forthcoming, as well as a couple of images that are from my commodified humans project.