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Adrien Broom's current project thrives in living color

AMY J. BARRY, Special to the Day

Publication: The Day

Published April 07. 2013 4:00AM   Updated April 07. 2013 5:46PM
Photo by Adrien Broom
Image from Adrien Broom's red “Beginnings” series.

White and red are finished. Yellow is about to begin. Green and blue are scheduled for spring and summer. Orange is waiting for pumpkin season. Purple will follow. And a rainbow will wrap it all up by next winter.

Adrien Broom's signature is creating fantastic worlds through her photography - mystical, magical, fairytale places where anything is possible.

But her newest endeavor - The Color Project - pushes the boundaries of her art beyond anything she's previously attempted.

The multimedia eight-part story for children explores the world of color as pictured through the eyes of a little girl. Broom and a team of artists and designers are building eight original sets in the Lyme native's New Haven studio to represent the distinct yet continuous worlds of the six colors of the rainbow (plus white and the full spectrum).

While shooting the still photographs of each completed set, Broom is also shooting video for a short film, and she says she is toying with ideas for a children's picture book, and perhaps an interactive e-book.

The idea for the Color Project, Broom explains, was inspired when she was at the home of a friend, who was painting a room all white.

"There was nothing in the room except a white chair. I thought it was so beautiful and then everything evolved from there."

She wrote a story about a little girl who wakes up to a world from which all color has vanished and everything is white: clouds, marshmallows, bunnies, doves, cauliflower, chef hats, cakes, the moon. After exploring the World of White, the girl discovers a door that leads her to the World of Red, followed by each of the other colors until she comes to the end of the rainbow where all the colors meet.

The imaginative, intricately detailed sets are Broom's way of recreating her favorite childhood picture books - "the ones that had tons and tons of details in the illustrations," she says, "(books) I could visually immerse myself in for hours, discovering new imagery I hadn't seen before."

She hopes that everyone who looks at the project - both kids and adults - will make up their own narratives about what it's all about.

"I never spell it out - that's the whole idea," Broom says. "The story is kind of itself about self-discovery and I'm hoping it will spark creativity and inspiration (in the viewer).

Collaboration on many levels

Broom has done many one-set projects featuring female models - "my work tends to go more towards the feminine," she notes - but this is the first project of this scope encompassing multiple sets and mediums featuring a child.

Although Broom isn't making a profit on the project, it's a costly undertaking from the equipment, props and materials to hair and make up for the model-and even the cost of renting and transporting animals from local farms to appear in various sets. And, she would like to start paying her collaborators, who all donate their time and talent.

Broom launched the project on Jan. 23, with the goal of raising $17,500 through Kickstarter-an online funding platform for creative projects that ended Feb. 22. She has raised her goal to $25,000 to cover the cost of "even more amazing things" that she says her mind "has been going wild thinking we could create and include, (due to) the overwhelming support, excitement, and love for this project."

Although the Kickstarter portion of the fundraising is over, for a donation to the project, Broom is offering people the opportunity to come to her studio for an individual or family portrait in the set of their favorite color-including hair, makeup, and wardrobe.

"I'm excited to be able to offer this," Broom says. "I wouldn't usually be able to photograph people in such an elaborate set."

Broom says she couldn't be happier with Annie, her young model and star of the magical journey.

"She's the sweetest girl and she loves the project," Broom says. "She saved up money from her own piggy bank to give me for the project. I just started crying when her mother told me that."

Broom stresses that the most important part of the entire process is the creative team she pulled together from throughout Connecticut.

Joseph Minasi, an award-winning filmmaker, is assisting with all the film aspects of the project. Kristen Meyer is Broom's creative collaborator in designing and constructing the sets. Floral artist Tony Palmieri is helping to create the organic parts of the worlds of color. d.d. Nickel is officially doing hair and make up but is also a key member of the set construction crew. And baker Miriam Rieder is creating "delicious pieces of art" for each world.

As multi-layered and time-consuming as Broom admits the constantly evolving project has turned out to be, she can barely contain her enthusiasm as she makes great strides forward.

She is currently gearing up for set #3: yellow.

"It's going to be awesome," she says. "The whole sky and ceiling will be covered in yellow paper lanterns that float up to the sky. There's a big yellow slide, a field of sunflowers and we're trying to get some baby ducklings. It will be really fun. I'm super excited."

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ABOUT THE PROJECT

For more information about "The Color Project," including how to make donations and setting up a photo shoot, visit Adrien Broom's website: www.adrienbroom.com.

An exhibit of Broom's work opens at Old Lyme's Bee and Thistle Inn on April 12.

To purchase prints from the show or any other series, contact the diane birdsall gallery in Old Lyme at (860) 434-3209.

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