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Former students layer fiction and reality

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Photographs printed on household items for “Tammy Time.” Credit: Courtesy of Clare Gatto

Photographs printed on household items for “Tammy Time.” Credit: Courtesy of Clare Gatto

For three former Ohio State students, a few weeks in December will allow them the chance to showcase an extensive photography series they have been working on for the last two years.

Mitch McGuire, Laura Payne and Clare Gatto were a group of friends from OSU who decided to start working on a new art project, unnamed at the time. Over the past two years, the once small idea has become a large scale exhibit called “Tammy Time” and will be displayed at the Urban Arts Space from Thursday to Dec. 19. The exhibit will bring forth a character called Tammy through a combination of multiple art elements.

“When we first started this character … we really didn’t have a name,” said Payne, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in English.  

Over time, the group gave the character the name of Tammy, who Payne said is a Realtor.

“We like to describe her as aspirational,” she said. “She likes the idea of a perfect home.”

Payne said that she gets into character by donning a wig and a power suit.

Payne plays Tammy while McGuire and Gatto, both avid photographers, take pictures of her in staged model homes throughout Columbus.

“We photograph Laura as Tammy, then print the photographs and portraits on utilitarian and decorative objects such as curtains and bathmats,” said Gatto, who graduated in 2012 with a degree in photography.

McGuire calls the project a character study and a photo project.

He said this process helps bring the decorative objects into the world, adding that the character becomes part of the object.

“It forces this to be a part of the world … rather than just a picture,” said McGuire, who also graduated in 2014 with a degree in medieval and renaissance studies and English.

Payne added that these objects would be seen in any other home, but when added with the picture, they become unrealistic in that setting.

“I think it started as strictly photography, and then after a while it became sort of sculptural because the objects in the photos took on a 3D life,” she said.

Although the group began the project back in December 2013, it had worked together before.

Photographs printed on household items for “Tammy Time.” Credit: Courtesy of Clare Gatto

Photographs printed on household items for “Tammy Time.” Credit: Courtesy of Clare Gatto

“We all first worked together on stuff for Ohio State’s fashion magazine Scarlette,” McGuire said.

Gatto said the idea began to become real after one meeting in which Laura brought the character of Tammy to life.

“We started off with just a single shoot … and Laura kind of embodied this character,” Gatto said.

McGuire added that Payne took on the character when she put on the suit, saying that her movement and mannerisms changed.

But the project didn’t come together overnight. It took the three of them nearly two years to fully develop the exhibit, being that they all had separate schedules and lived in different cities after graduation.

“It’s just been a long and ongoing thing,” Payne said. “It was just something we would come back to when we were all free.”

The character’s name was key to the name of the exhibit, “Tammy Time.”

“Whenever we were getting ready to do shoots we would just say that,” Payne said. “We all have a strong idea of this character and this world that it’s pretty natural when we are all able to come together and work on it.”

So what’s next for the three artists?

“More Tammy Time,” Payne said.

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