Toby MacLennan is a multimedia artist working in Brooklyn, NY. In a review for The New York Times, Jennifer Dunning writes, “Toby MacLennan is a visionary whose feet are firmly planted in the ground… [Her work] is at heart a romantic ode to the hidden, instinctual voyages by which we navigate through life.”
MacLennan has performed and had installations at MoMA PS1, PS122, The Andrus Planetarium, Hudson River Museum, Art in General, The National Gallery of Canada, The H.R. MacMillan Planetarium in British Columbia, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
She has screened films in Brussels, London, NYC, Paris, Poland, Chicago and New Mexico. In addition, her films received awards at The New York Film Festival, Brussels International Film Festival, Ohio Film Festival, Louisville Film Festival, and the Annual Festival of Experimental Film, Chicago Art Institute. Galerie Articule in Montreal hosted a retrospective of her films as well.
Her book, 1 Walked out of 2 and Forgot It, was published by The Something Else Press and reviewed by The New York Times. John Cage wrote the sample/foreword to another of her books, Singing the Stars, published by Coach House Press.
Her photographic work has been exhibited in Germany, UK, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Los Angeles, Vermont, Colorado and California. An Honorable Mention was awarded for her photos in Interview Online Magazine, Berlin, Germany, The Center for Fine Art Photography, CO, The Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, Berlin, Germany, and IPA 2018 International Photography Awards, NY.
About her process in creating digitally enhanced photos, MacLennan says:
I begin a photograph by making sketches and notes from an evocative dream or experience. Then I build props, find objects, create costumes, masks, backdrops and take photos of myself or close friends. Many times I use a macro lens to capture details barely discernible, like the one-inch chrysalis seen in the image above. When I’ve collected all the images, I play with the endless possibilities until some combination surprises me and I know the photo is finished.
I’ve used images I shot in the Tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt, peacocks engaging in a rattling, ear piercing, mating ritual, live butterflies in the Butterfly House in the Museum of Natural History, horses in a stable in lower Manhattan, church icons in Mexico, a ranger’s animal rescue shelter in Canada, and deer trailing down a West Virginia mountain as I huddled in the bushes. It was both a gift and a pleasure to shoot a spider in my morning window building a web and then licking a dew drop. Maybe I photograph so many birds because when I was at college, rather than study, I preferred to sneak out of the house and fly an old two-seater airplane into the clouds, and the feeling of being a soaring bird has never quite left me.