Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Artist Interview: Liesa Cole and Tony Rodio

Why don't we start by telling us who you are and what you do
Liesa Cole: Photographer
Tony Rodio: co-owner of Omni Studio, Studio Manager/retoucher by day, digital artist, assembler of our multiple image composites [panoramas].

Where are each of you from?
Liesa: Baton Rouge, LA

Tony: Born in Hollywood, Florida. Lived in Birmingham since I was a child except for a stint in New York City in 2005

Do you feel like where you are from has affected how you reflect back in your art, and how so?
Liesa: Definitely. As the daughter of a British Immigrant and a Southern Dairy Farmer, raised in cajun country, juxtaposition reveals everything to me.

Tony: Not so much where I'm from as much as who I've encountered.

What inspired you to be a photographer / artist?
Liesa: I have always had a penchant for magic. As a theatre major at L.S.U.
I took photography as an elective. The first time I saw an image magically appear on a blank piece of paper floating in the developer bath, I was hooked. I like also that I can explore a theme, really invest myself in it, create something. And then, have this tangible image to present in a permanent way. My work in the theatre seemed so vaporous by comparison.
Tony: The desire to create something that I could be proud of and that someone else could appreciate.

I love how your work is a collaboration, can you tell me a little about your process?
Liesa: Tony says I am the "distributor". He is the organizer, detail person. I move on flights of fancy and impulsive inspiration. Tony is a planner. Together I think we represent a single well-rounded, high functioning person!

I love your panorama work, how labor intensive are these?
Liesa: I usually concept the work and do the photography, with Tony assisting. We usually float down a scene, photographing many times at each interval. After the shoot, Tony prints out contact sheets for me. I then pore over the multitude of images looking for a little story of sorts. Then, I literally cut and paste images, and bits of images, together in a jigsaw fashion. Sometimes this represents as many as parts of 30 or more images. Now, Tony has the hard part! I pass off the collage to him. He meticulously fetches the selected image bits, and seamlessly melds them together, as if it really happened that way. He is so patient and precise. When he is satisfied, I cannot even tell where his seams are.

They are all amazing, what things do you look for when searching out the perfect spot for a panorama?
Liesa: I am interested in the common threads of human experience. I love places where people from all walks of life co-mingle. Irony and humor always emerge in these places. Again, it is all about juxtaposition.

Your latest work is called "The Mythic Backyard" can you tell me a little bit about this work in progress?
Liesa: This work is all about the brief magical phase in childhood that usually happens between the ages of 3 and 5. Remember when you dressed up like a fairy or a super hero and got lost in your own imagination? You thought about jumping off the dog house roof with your towel as cape, or costume wings securely in place, and taking flight. You were glorious and powerful. Your imagination raged undeterred, until you were called in for dinner. I am concerned that today's kids are denied this self-generated magic by so much structure and batteries. There are so many lessons and sports, which are all about following the rules. There are electronic games that produce the imagery and activity for you. I document the "mythic Back-yard" where I find it for 2 reasons. 1) I want to remember and re-connect with this creative and empowering phase in my own life. and 2) I want to remind others to keep sacred the Mythic Backyard for their own children. Give them space and time to just "go forth and play!"

What is the best place for someone to view your work?
Come to the OMNI! This is our home studio/gallery in downtown Birmingham,

What are some of your favorite hobbies other than your art?
Liesa: I Love to invent ethnic fusion food. Like, Asian gumbo, or Paella Bombay. Tony is the best "Sous" ever! Also, thrifting, travelling, foreign films, board games, biographies and riding our vintage tandem. I only spin fire on special occasions now.
Tony: Music has always been a huge passion for me. I played in bands for years, dj'd some and am constantly searching out music that moves me.

Now three quick silly questions -

What is in your fridge right now?

Liesa: An enormous quantity of fresh brussels sprouts! We are in charge of a "vegetable" for the family Thanksgiving.
Tony: Grade "b" maple syrup. We just discovered it. You will never eat regular syrup again!

What is your favorite movie of all time?
Liesa: Amelie!
Tony: Hmm, that's a tough one.
If you asked me that 5 years ago I would have said "Blade Runner". It was my all time favorite for a long time. I think Amelie is a beautiful movie.

What is spinning on the turntable or on the ipod right now?
Liesa: OMG, that is so funny that you would ask that! We just dusted off a box of vintage vinyl! "Connie Francis sings German Favorites" and "Honolulu Honky-Tonk" by Frankie Carle. Why does this retro kitchy stuff make me so happy?
Tony: The latest addition to my ipod is The Brazilian Girls newest album, "New York City".

Liesa and Tony's work can be viewed at omnistudio


  1. really great work!
    wish they had a better website

  2. I absolutely adore this makes my heart happy. Lisa and Tony are wonderful!