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Mineola Student Showcases Creepy Art

Photography is not a hobby for Lauren Miceli. The Mineola resident sees it as an avenue for her future. Miceli, 16, showcased a flair for the dark side with her work that was on display during the recent “Nightmare on Main Street” exhibition at the Huntington Arts Council.


The Wheatley School student gained honorable mention status at last year’s exhibit with a photo dubbed “Ghostly.” The image was featured in The New York Times.


“I’m engrossed with the idea of how you can capture a single moment in time and freeze it and it’s there forever,” she said.


Miceli said there’s no true definition of her 2013 piece named “Matrimony,” which depicts a bride wearing a gas mask, with her groom’s head cut off at the top of the frame. To Miceli, it’s up to the viewer.


“I was just thinking about ideas of marriage and relationships,” she said. “It’s a complicated thing. I’ve never been married but I find it intriguing. Everyone interprets art differently.”


As far as the groom’s head goes in the photo, she called it a “happy accident.” Miceli feels it adds to the picture’s story.


“He was a lot taller than her and getting her in the frame correctly only worked when half his head was not in the shot,” shes said.


The theme of the exhibition was in line with Miceli’s strengths and interests, particularly in the bizarre and eerie. “One day my art teachers had a flyer [in class] and I decided to do it because I’ve taken pictures of a lot of creepy things.”


She started snapping images by hijacking her dad’s disposable camera whenever she could. Miceli became heavily involved in photography classes in ninth grade with Wheatley teacher Julia Donovan, with whom she works today, and art teacher Nicole Walsh.


“I gravitate toward taking pictures of people but I’ll tackle anything that captures my interest,” she said.


Miceli draws her inspiration in the still picture from the works of Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman. Woodman was best known for her black-and-white pictures featuring herself and female models. Sherman’s talent was in conceptual portraits, which focused on questions about the role and representation of women in society and the media.


“I like Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills,” said Miceli. The stills are on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. “They’re fantastic. They are the perfect combination of fine art with a journalistic aspect. They’re all staged but all have a real quality to them.”


While not her favorite photo, the famous V-J Day photo captured in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt at the end of World War II sticks out in Miceli’s mind as a prime example of capturing a moment that can endure for decades. She doesn’t call herself a romantic, but acknowledges the power of the image.


“They were complete strangers and you don’t get that vibe from the picture at all,” said Miceli. “It’s one single moment. That’s all it is and it became a big, mass-produced photo that’s been everywhere for years.”


Miceli doesn’t plan to put down the camera anytime soon. She wants to continue her education at The New School of Design in New York City. Miceli is torn between focusing on photojournalism or art photography.


“I like the journalistic aspect of it but also the artistic touch so maybe I’ll try to find something to incorporate the two,” she said.