Mirrored images

“Distant Lights” by Angela Casagrande, archival inkjet print, 2010.

“Distant Lights” by Angela Casagrande, archival inkjet print, 2010.

Fe Gallery & Iron Art Studio

1100 65th St.
Sacramento, CA 95819

(916) 456-4455


“It’s flat and brown. And dry.” That’s how 34-year-old photographer Angela Casagrande describes Sacramento. But she says she likes this, having grown up and attended college in green and perpetually wet Humboldt County. After relocating here nine years ago upon graduating, she now resides in Curtis Park and works as a teaching assistant in Sacramento City College’s photography department. Though she shoots primarily on film, her recent Quatrain series involves mirroring digital photos she captures. Drawn to this style because she sees images within the manipulated one, it sounds like a subconscious relation to her phobia of mirrors. Read on:

You’re working on a photographic series about neuroses and phobias?

It’s on a mirror phobia—it’s a really hard name—it’s eisoptrophobia. It’s a fear of seeing something supernatural in the mirror or seeing something that shouldn’t belong there. It’s sort of a long-term project I’m working on, and it’s still being fleshed out, if you will.

Where did you get the idea for this?

It’s actually something that I’ve had. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve always had it. When I was little, I always thought mirrors were really freaky and that I would see something in them that I shouldn’t see. It’s still there, I noticed, when I’m really stressed out, I kind of worry that I’m going to see something I shouldn’t. But on a list of phobias, it’s not the worst one to have. It’s manageable.

What kind of things do you see?

I’ve never seen anything; it’s just a fear that I’ll see, like, a ghost or something. … I think there are other people who are afraid of seeing themselves in the mirror. … I only just found out that this was actually a real deal: I thought that I was just kind of a weird person. …

I remember it stems from my grandparents. They had this huge mirror in their upstairs hallway, and it used to just terrify me going by it. … I blame the mirror.

The work you’re showing at Fe Gallery this month look like they’re mirrored images. Are they all digital?

They are actually digital images. So they are pieces from photographs I’ve taken and multiplied. Looking at Fibonacci sequences—I know they don’t quite fit in the whole sequence—but I was thinking about the ratio when I was making them, these new weird landscapes. … I was calling them meditative landscapes for a while, then I started calling them “quatrains” because that sounded more elegant.

They’re reminiscent of Kurt Fishback’s mandala series, also manipulated digital photos, from a few years ago. Are you familiar with this series?

No, I didn’t see that one. I’ve heard of mandalas, but I’ve seen the hand-drawn ones and the repetition of those. This one, I was just playing around and started seeing a pattern in this one piece and thought, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And I started seeing little images appear in it as I was working on it.

Fe’s website shows a photo you took in Egypt. Is that in the show?

No, [it’s] not. I was actually kind of surprised to see that. It’s just the quatrains that I’m showing, and somehow one of the Egypt photos made it up there. I remember I sent that in as a potential series for them to show at the gallery.

Why were you in Egypt?

I’ve always wanted to go, and last year it was my husband and I’s 10-year anniversary of being together, so we decided that we wanted to do something really exciting and special for that.

It’d be timely to show those.

I know. It’ll be a year next Thursday or Friday since we’ve been over there, and we’ve been watching the coverage and reading about it every day. I am quite amazed to see what’s been going on.

What was your experience like?

I remember we went with a tour group, and there was a woman asking our tour guide what everybody thought about [President Hosni] Mubarak, and we were in the middle of the street. I don’t think he was one to say, “I think I hate him.” He was very tight-lipped about the whole thing. I don’t know if he was just being diplomatic, or if he really couldn’t say anything against his leader. I got the impression that he didn’t like him.

The Egypt photos are taken with a Holga, and you’re a self-proclaimed toy camera enthusiast.

I’ve had that one for about 10 years. … That was a little Holga celebration, too. I get really attached to my cameras. So she came along.

You also use Polaroid film, which is having a rebirth. How do you feel about Lady Gaga being the creative director at Polaroid?

At first I thought it was a gimmick, but I thought hey, if it’s a gimmick and gets Polaroid back out there, then awesome. ’Cause quite frankly, I teared up a little bit when I heard it got shut down, because I love it so much. … I watched a live feed they did of their unveiling last month, and I was actually impressed with the products. She actually had a direct hand in designing these things.