About the Artist

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The thief who stole your secret dreams Todd Messegee has worked in photography for over twenty years. His fine art photographs have been called "haunting, dream-like images" and have been sought after by collectors from around the world. For a recent essay about his work, Todd wrote the following.

"At the time of my discovery of photography and all it could do, I was a teenager living in rural Virginia. The forests surrounding my family home were so full of visual information that I found them overwhelming, so instead of turning my camera out into the world I hid in the darkness of my room. There I began to photograph the objects I had been collecting throughout my early years. Saved from dumpsters in the city or recovered from the ground where animals fell dead, I gathered my subjects and allowed them to guide me.

"Each photograph is a discovery. Complex or straightforward, the final image is often much different than what I originally set out to do. The evolution is simple, the lights and objects are moved, manipulated, and moved again. My contact sheets are a jumble, no two frames are alike despite the fact that I am shooting "still life."

"I have never slept well. My mind races with voices, sounds and images at all times. It takes quite a bit of concentration for me to push these distractions aside when I am awake, but I have no chance of silencing them when I attempt to sleep. Over the years this has been the well spring for many of my favorite and most popular images. When I woke one night not long ago I had an image in my head and with it a little poem that became the title, "The Thief Who Stole Your Secret Dreams" (pictured above). I did a drawing of what I saw and soon after my wife Lisa found the sketch. She requested that I turn this drawing - one of thousands - into a photograph. I got to work the next day, knowing that the sooner I made the picture, the sooner I could put the words to rest. Even more than the pictures, the titles will rattle around in my head until I do something with them. Often times I will build a set and exhaust myself with work simply so I can get some sleep.

"Having lived with this process for many years now I have come to better understand the work that results from it. With each new picture I continue to ask my objects and images to symbolically represent issues that I cannot resolve."

Recently, Todd has been melding his continuing portrait work with the fine art still lifes.

"I want to collide the two sides of my work to see what comes out. Artists like Joel Peter Witkin and Mark Ryden have found a way to bring the human form very successfully into their personal work and I hope to learn from them. I have an enormous respect for those two, as well as Jock Sturges, and if I could steal from any artists it would be those three. I'm on my own path of course, just as they are on theirs, and I'll continue to do it by using my own voice."

"I will never understand life while I am alive, and wonder if death will bring answers or simply oblivion. The wonderful result of working on the unanswerable of course is that you never run out of work. I can only hope that I am able to use my camera to chase my demons to the very end."

Todd Messegee recieved a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in the Photography program. The RISD museum has a portfolio of his work from his college years in their photography collection.
Todd later earned an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Directing for Theatre, Film and Television. He worked in the entertainment industry as a writer and photographer for fifteen years. He currently lives and works Virginia. He continues to persue his interests in film and photography and teaches both at the Northern Virginia Community College in Manassas.

Todd Messegee Photography

All Images and Graphics Copyright 2004, Todd Messegee
Revised Winter 2004
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