It took a single piece of ice to change Liz Guarracino’s life.
It was 2005 and Guarracino was living in Colorado. She was playing with her dog one day, trying to find her purpose in life. As she went to grab water from her refrigerator, a huge chunk of ice fell out of the pitcher and onto the floor.
As Guarracino went to pick it up, she began looking at the ice through the light in her kitchen, and remembered thinking, “This is insane,” before beginning to take pictures of what she was seeing.
“There’s just something about the way that I was able to look through this piece of ice and find what I was looking for all those years,” Guarracino said.
Guarracino quickly went to Google to see if there were other photographers who specialized in ice photography. She couldn’t find any.
“I was like, ‘This is mine. I’m taking this and I’m running with it,’” she said.
Since that moment more than a decade ago, Guarracino has photographed some 15,000 to 20,000 images of ice in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
“No one will ever be the same,” she said. “They’re like snowflakes.”
Nowadays, Guarracino lives in the Kingsbridge home she grew up in, pursuing all sorts of photography ranging from covering major events like New York Fashion Week, to smaller scale things like the Poor Mouth Theatre Company’s shows at An Beal Bocht Café.
“I’m constantly creating,” she said. “I’ve just always been like that.”
Ice, however, is her main priority since she’s always been attracted to abstract art.
Over the years, Guarracino has seen her work grow tremendously as she finds different ways to photograph ice.
“You can move it slightly and the light just hits it perfectly,” she said, “or you can just turn it around and you get a whole different aspect of the same shot, but they’re all different.”
Guarracino also recently found a way to incorporate color into her work in the most unexpected way.
“I have this pink exercise ball that kind of rolled into the frame when I was taking the pictures,” she said. “Then it became pink. And it was just like, ‘Oh my God … this just opened up another door for me.’”
Although she’s had her work displayed in Denver and Los Angeles, Guarracino is exhibiting her work in New York for the first time at the SRO Gallery in Brooklyn. The show, “Photo-A-GoGo,” runs through Nov. 11 at 1144 Dean St., and focuses on how photography is used as an element to convey how a creative process can respond to or be equivalent to a “social digital/exchange mentality,” according to a news release from the gallery.
The opportunity has Guarracino “jumping around inside,” because she’s ecstatic to be closer to making her photographic dreams come true.
“My main goal in life is just to be represented by a gallery,” she said, “and just to live my life just creating and keep putting it out there.”
And the ice project is far from over for Guarracino. She sees herself taking these photographs for the rest of her life.
“I never get sick of it,” she said. “There might be days that go by that I don’t shoot, but I’m constantly putting it out there.”
Although Guarracino loves taking photos of ice and hopes to take her project a step further by photographing ice in places like Alaska and Iceland, she’s actually isn’t a fan of freezing climates.
“I don’t like to be cold, but I like the look of winter,” Guarracino said. “I love when trees have no leaves on them and you get these stark abstract lines with the branches in the snow. I guess it’s something that I’m still exploring every day on why it draws me and why I’m so obsessed with it.”
When it comes to what others think of her work, Guarracino hopes that “it brings them a never-ending source of curiosity.”
“It’s just kind of whatever you want it to be,” she said. “That’s why I don’t name a lot of the photographs because I like people to decipher (them) to see what they see for themselves and use their imagination.”
Looking back on the last 13 years of photographing ice, Guarracino’s feels that it’s opened her mind up to “looking beyond what’s in front of you.”
“It’s so simple as a piece of ice that you get from your refrigerator can produce an image that you would think that maybe someone painted or took off a mountain peak, but it’s right in front of you,” Guarracino said. “Beauty’s all around you if you just stop and look around. Sometimes it smacks you right in the face.”