Cheryl Maeder’s surreal photographs seamlessly blend reality and the abstract

“The core of my work has always been about connection—the innate connection to oneself, to each other, and to all other life forms on the planet. We’re not separate from nature. We are nature.”

That is the principle that has guided the art of Cheryl Maeder, as she masterfully uses her camera to meld the real and the surreal. Her technique is perhaps most apparent in her Beach & Sea and Landscape series: From a hazy, far-away view of the beach to a colorful depiction of the moon as if viewed through a frosted window, the works evoke a nebulous tension that is difficult to describe. But you feel it.

A New Jersey native, Maeder’s studies and work have taken her all over the globe. She had been working out of a studio in San Francisco—where her photography for fashion and advertising campaigns became the inspiration for Dove’s successful Real Beauty campaign—when she heard about Art Basel’s inaugural show in Miami Beach. She decided to move her studio to West Palm Beach and quickly made a splash on the local art scene, exhibiting at major art fairs like Art Miami, SCOPE, and Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary.

Photography by Cheryl Maeder

“Living in South Florida has very much influenced my art,” says Maeder. “The relaxed environment, the horizontal open spaces, and the sensual experience of the tropics have expanded my world.”

To that end, the photographs on these pages were born. “Sugarcane Moonlight and Everglades I are my favorites from my Landscape series,” she says. “My husband, who is an abstract painter, told me Everglades I reminded him of the work of artist Mark Rothko. That one is now in the permanent collection of The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami.”

More recently, Maeder has begun experimenting with video installations, several of which have been exhibited at major art fairs around the world (including the 2016 Canvas Outdoor Museum Show in West Palm Beach). Her latest installation, Simulacra, is “a reflection of who we have become in this social media age,” says the artist. “As an observer and narrator of the film, I become another one of the subjects in this social commentary on our filtered reality.”

Additional Work by Cheryl Maeder

Frequency: https://vimeo.com/295444357

The Voyage: https://vimeo.com/229758415

Celestial Babies: https://vimeo.com/185376774

Simulacra: https://vimeo.com/337578779