Mental Floss

Playing God: Lori Nix

Andréa Fernandes

Contemporary photographer Lori Nix creates images that she hopes will trick the viewers, if only for a few seconds. Her images, many of which appear to depict the destruction resulting from human or natural disasters, are actually photographs of tabletop models that she creates in her apartment. A bit about this fascinating modern artist and her work"¦

1. Lori Nix "has a God complex," asserts the Randall Scott Gallery. "The creation and destruction of the world she creates from scratch electrifies her."

2. Much of Nix's work is influenced by her experiences growing up in Kansas in the "˜70s, as well as Kansas-based movies and books such as "Wizard of Oz" and "In Cold Blood." According to her web site, not only is Kansas geographically in the middle of the U.S., the state "also represents the moral middle of the road as a state of mind where conventional family values and good citizenship go hand in hand." Nix's images "question conventional codes of society" while also allowing her to reflect on and explore the place where she grew up.

3. On the Internet, Nix has gained some fame for throwing frozen frogs in her youth. She recalls, "It was a late freeze, and I remember being at this farmer's house and all these frogs' bodies were frozen into the pond. My brother and I started chipping them out and throwing them at one another and then at my sister." In another interview, she mentioned that the incident was one of many "strange and gruesome animal fatalities" she saw growing up, all of which seemed to be symptomatic of "an uncaring Nature."

4. Like the chalk art of Julian Beever, Nix's work is both time-consuming and designed to be photographed from one specific point of view. All of Nix's dioramas are hand-crafted, and the images undergo no digital editing or Photoshop manipulation. The intricacy of the dioramas' components, such as a chandelier the size of a softball, mean each model can take from three months to two years to complete, even with the aid of her girlfriend/assistant Kathleen Gerber and other friends. The dioramas can be as large as 4 x 5 feet, and are then captured on 8 by 10 film, producing prints ranging from 20 x 24 inches to 40 x 65 inches.

A larger version of Nix's "Natural History" (from her City series) is available here. Fans should check out Nix's official web site; her self-published book "Small Dangers;" Cool Hunting's video of her studio; and the virtual tour of her 2004 exhibit at the California Museum of Photography. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at with artist suggestions or details of current exhibitions.