Debra Holt’s panoramic photographs on nature deceive the eye and transform perception in an illusionistic process. The artist imposes an approach to water or skylines, by using a photogram technique; she shoots many consecutive photos per second obtaining the same scene many times but with slightest and imperceptible changes. Holt ironically and purposely recreates the Warhol like process of repetition where the subject goes into reverberation and disappearance.
Nature is not nature in the real sense in Holt’s photographs but a pictorial construction of forms, outlines, textures, and colors that have become unnatural, distanced from the factual, twisting into an imaginary landscape of shadows or lights counterpoint with impassive echo.
Holt has described herself as having a keenness for the earth’s natural elements and it's atmospheric changes. The earth, skylines, wind, clouds and water play a major role in her art, but there is a special affinity between the artist and water and what it represents. Water as a symbol for rebirth, cleansing and fertility and is in constant change, transforming itself. Holt captures an instant of water that is in quick and continuous transformation and creates powerful images that are bursting with color, movement, symbolism and mysticism. Shades of blue, indigo, teal and white create metaphysical worlds that are inviting, pleasing and alluring to the eye. The result are images of ambiguous ethereal forms that appear to hold an otherworldly message. By effectively capturing these instants, she enhances the enormous and larger than life power of water.
By slowing down the shooting speed or by the widening the opening of the diaphragm, Holt blurs the scenes of the waterfalls, entitled Blue Series, turning them away from the flatness of the real. She reduces the image to blurred and jagged contours of pure tactile sensations. The artist retains the subject matter but decomposes its figurative aspect into an abstract image. Imprecision and unreality in the dematerialization process put into question the visibleness of the eye which attempts to perceive, in a subtle torture, what is in the image. In the Black Series, Holt shot at night the same scenes in three different sight sequences of haunting dark waters of abysmal tenebrism. The scenes challenge the eye to a synesthetical vision.
In giving away the materialization of the subject and devoiding her images of mimetic references, Holt has freed her photos of any message. It is a way of detaching herself from the modernist allures and intentions. The loss of message does not mean the work has lost sense and direction but that has acquired a level of pure fictional representation, holding into the resonance of metaphors.
A native South Florida artist, Debra Holt was born in West Palm Beach, and grew up in Miami, Florida. Holt feels that the light, water and colors that are so evident in Miami have influenced her work. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida International University, she moved to New York and received a Masters of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. Living in New York City for a many years influenced her direction as an artist and opened her eyes to many concepts and media. Visiting the museums and contemporary art galleries inspired Holt to develop the freedom of expression to create art works without boundaries and to explore conceptual ideas with the flexibility of media and content. With this freedom, as a multi media artist, Debra Holt has employed various media to convey the concept she wishes to explore. The artist’s extensive travel experiences in both United States and Abroad have influenced the rich development of unique and creative artistic expressions through the knowledge of art history and the social, cultural and economic influences of different countries.
Debra Holt has exhibited her work in both New York and Miami galleries and museums and is currently represented by Abba Fine Art located in the Wynwood Art District. She is the recipient of many awards and grants including the National Sculpture Society Grant, The Nancy McGrath Award, Lucrezia Bori Foundation Prize, Albert H. Hallgarten Traveling Fellowship, and the Artist’s Fellowship Grant.