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Artist refuses to quit despite losing eye

Lorraine Boogich sets up her large-format camera to take a long exposure image of the South Pacific Hotel in Miami this year.

Associated Press

Lorraine Boogich sets up her large-format camera to take a long exposure image of the South Pacific Hotel in Miami this year.

MIAMI — In one corner of the 4- by 4-foot canvas, green and orange blend and swirl like tie-dye. In another, San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts floats on a cloud.

Below, the old Key West Bridge stretches across blue bay waters. Its vanishing point lies behind Rome's historic Fountain of Triton: a half-man, half-fish blowing into a conch.

Called The Reason Travel Inspires Me to Create, it's the singular artistic expression of a photographer who sees the world in a singular way — literally.

Lorraine Boogich was 17 when a car wreck all but sheared off the right side of her face in 2000.

"The eye was basically crushed," she said. Doctors "didn't even know where it was. … After a few hours in surgery, they found it in the cheek cavity."

Reset in the socket, the blind eye gradually atrophied, becoming so painful and distracting that she couldn't take pictures.

Boogich, 26, had it removed this year and replaced with a blue-green prosthetic, the installation of which capped nine years of skin and bone grafts and hair transplants to repair the accident's damage.

Through it all, Boogich, of North Miami Beach, developed a clear vision for her future.

The one-time aspiring film director, a 2007 Barry University graduate, is launching a career in fine-art and commercial photography while working at Gallery Art in Aventura.

"Sharing the way I see the world has been a desire of mine," said Boogich, who especially likes travel and architectural photography. "Do I see things differently? I always have."

Yet she laughs when recalling being dragged to New York art museums as a child, "seeing Jackson Pollock and insisting that wasn't art; I could do that. Now I love modern art because I understand the ideas behind a lot of the pieces."

• • •

Influenced by the surrealists, she takes a different approach "almost every time I have an idea," such as recently photographing an architectural series with a toy camera.

"And I really like doing stuff at night because it captures a whole different energy. There's not really any people around, so it feels unique to the viewer."

Boogich describes her own creations as "a reflection of the impression left upon me by my physical surroundings."

"Often I try to expose hidden beauty in the mundane. … Experimentation and my attraction toward the eccentric push me to look beyond the surface in order to capture the true essence of my subject whether it be living, natural or man-made," she said.

Her work already has been featured in View Camera magazine and shown at the Miami Children's Museum. The "travel inspiration" piece — computer-manipulated images shot with a large-format camera in Europe and around the United States — recently hung at Churchill's Pub in Northeast Miami, part of an exhibit by artists calling themselves the Luminos Collective.

Last January, Boogich and several friends from Barry in Miami Shores formed the collective "to get group shows and help keep each other creating."

For the Churchill's show, four of them collaborated on a mixed-media-on-plexiglass panel, melding photography, drawing, graphic design and painting.

She showed some of her work during Art Basel week at venues not affiliated with the event: Wallflower Gallery in downtown Miami and the Playground Theater in Miami Shores.

Despite the horrific injury and laborious recovery, Boogich was an outstanding student at Barry, where she wowed teachers with her dedication, talent and confidence.

At the time of the accident, Boogich — who had started art lessons at 4 — was studying film and video production at Full Sail University, a media/arts school in Winter Park. She missed seven months of classes. After graduating in 2001, Boogich moved to Miami and enrolled at Miami International University of Art & Design, studying visual effects and motion graphics. She switched to Barry — and photography — in January 2006.

In March 2007, Barry photography teacher Scott Weber urged his students to volunteer at the Society for Photographic Education's conference in Miami.

"We really encouraged them to get their portfolios together," he said. He praised Boogich for her "drive," and said she was "fearless about showing her work to anyone who would critique it."

That included a View Camera magazine editor who particularly liked her negative/positive color images of Art Deco South Beach buildings. The positives are true to life; the negatives are color-reversed, so that red/orange shades become green/blue, and vice versa.

"Choosing to be a visual artist with handicaps and limitations is amazing," said an admiring Weber.

But Boogich doesn't feel all that limited, now that she's no longer in pain. Such limits as there are have more to do with others' perceptions.

"I have to go into every situation wondering if someone is going to ask what happened, and if you're looking for a job, it throws you off," she said. "The worst thing in your life is right on your face."

Artist refuses to quit despite losing eye 12/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:47pm]
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