Photography Alumni Exhibit

Photography Alumni Exhibit

August 19 – September 23, 2019
Reception: Friday, September 13, 5-6pm


Madeline Kim

Students of Susan Fenton’s traditional photography courses over the past twenty years present old and new photographs in honor of their adored professor.  Over 70 pieces fill the walls of the home where once novice students took a leap into the dark and found a new form of self-expression.

This exhibition is in conjunction with the Merion Hall exhibition of photographs by the late Susan Fenton.  Following this reception, visitors can proceed to Merion Hall Gallery to hear Larry Spaid speak about Fenton’s work.

“A Survey” Photography by Susan Fenton

August 19 – September 23, 2019

Gallery Talk & Reception: Friday, Sept 13, 5-8:30pm

5 – 6 pm: Boland Hall Gallery Reception – Boland Hall is exhibiting the work of Susan Fenton’s SJU photography students from the past 20 years.

6:15 pm: Merion Hall Gallery Talk given by Larry Spaid

7 – 8:30 pm: Merion Hall Gallery Reception

 

A Survey, showcases over 50 pieces from the beloved and talented photographer, artist, and teacher, Susan Fenton. Susan was a self-taught studio photographer whose work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. She obtained her Bachelor of Studio Art Degree from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University where she also received a Master’s in Art Education. Susan obtained a second Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from The Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University. She participated in artist residencies in California, France, and Ireland. In addition, she taught abroad at Temple University Japan in Tokyo as well as for Saint Mary’s College and Notre Dame University in Rome.

Selected series of work represented in this exhibit include: Rome, Barbie, Nocturne, White, Ballingen, and Fatima. Nocturne and Fatima are traditional black and white photographs that feature selenium-toned gelatin silver prints (Nocturne) and gelatin silver prints (Fatima). A great majority of Susan’s photographs are hand-painted gelatin silver prints recalling her formal education in painting. She did not start practicing digital photography until later in her career as seen in her Baroque series. This exhibit shows a wide variety of Susan’s interests. One overarching aspect in her figurative work is how the identity of the model is hidden and camouflaged to emphasize the form of the subject. Despite the use of models in many photographs, Susan’s art was not about portraiture, but rather the essence of a still-life or as in her Baroque series, the ambience of thematic stories.

Influenced by Moorish art as well as artists such as Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Giorio Morandi, Susan eloquently combines the classical elements of their work with expressive photographic techniques that create a powerful, but soft aesthetic unique to Susan Fenton’s work. A true studio artist, every photograph is meticulously planned out to the smallest detail. In referring to Susan’s artistic process her husband Larry Spaid says:

“I know Susan loved  research, traveling and experiencing crazy places….it all filtered into her work.”

Also featured in this exhibit are a series of watercolor paintings that Susan worked on while traveling. Rather than using a camera to document travel she used this painting technique, over a four year period, as a journal and later in her studio as a reference. In addition, the exhibit features a film by John Thorton and a slideshow from one of Susan’s numerous academic lectures. These help illuminate her detail-oriented and thorough examination of subject matter in her chosen area of research.

~ Rowan Sullivan ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

 

www.susanfenton.com

“Exploration” Junior Art Majors’ Exhibit

Junior Art Majors’ Exhibition
April 5 – May 8, 2019
Boland Hall Gallery
Reception: April 5, 4-6pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caela Abadie

 

Andres Deschapelles

Andres Deschapelles is inspired by the geometric forms found in abstract art.  In this exhibit, he combines his passion for animals with vibrant colors and marked shapes.  The animals portrayed
are discernable but have a hint of abstraction.

Deschapelles would like to show viewers the beautiful creatures that are in danger of losing their habitats because of human encroachment.  Habitat destruction is one of the leading causes of species endangerment.  “My dream is to start a reptile and wild animal sanctuary to save these magnificent creatures who are dying off at a tremendous speed due to human behavior,” says Deschapelles.

 

Anissa Wilson

Anissa Wilson has been fascinated with the ocean and its plentiful life forms since childhood.  Her aim is to recreate the beauty that exists within it, not only for herself but for those unfamiliar with ocean life.  “Our oceans and beaches are less thought of and are getting neglected. Coral reefs are dying, our waters are polluted, and marine life is suffering in the place they call home,” says Wilson.   Society must address pollution issues so that the allure of the sea remains intact.  “I want to continue to create ocean related drawings to remind people of the beauty that once flourished without threat from humanity,” reflects Wilson.

Form – student work in 3D

March 5-29, 2019
Coffee Hour: Tuesday, March 20, 8-9am

Text by Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant: Rowan Sullivan ‘21

This exhibit showcases student artwork from the Mixed Media Sculpture, Mosaics, and 3D Art classes instructed by Jill Allen and Krista Svalbonas. Using materials such as wood, clay, wire, and plaster the students create unique artworks that express their understanding of space, form, and conceptual development.

 The 3D Art class focused on the element of movement in their pieces and the different ways to express it through their own process of artistic innovation. One of the concepts that the class explored was the idea of a “dwelling.” Using foam core and paint the students created 3D models of what their perception of a dwelling is. The 3D Art class also worked on automata box sculptures (wood box structure with movable machine parts and assemblage top piece) that apply found or fabricated objects in an unusual context. Each automata box has a moving component that makes the sculpture come alive in a dynamic fashion that draws attention to a certain area of the artwork. The Mosaics Class created artworks that exemplified the impact of the 2018-2019 government shutdown on our National Parks as well as abstract representations of geographic locations from an aerial view.

“The pieces for this exhibit were chosen to show the many unique ways that artists interpret a similar theme. While parameters might be given with regards to material or size, each person’s individual experiences and ways of seeing the world affect their concept and execution of their work.”              – Jill Allen

The Mixed Media Sculpture class created cast plaster pieces that took a form of social awareness on issues such as: “Fake News,” sexual assault, alcohol abuse, and the stigma of learning disabilities.

“In my Mixed Media Sculpture course  I had students focus on casting techniques. Within the confines of this technical process, I asked them to think deeply about themselves and how Art can bring attention to the important social issues of our time.”
– Krista Svalbonas

 

Mosaics
The mosaic pieces displayed are inspired by two concepts: the impact that the government shutdown had on National Parks and the abstract aerial view of specific geographic locations. The various animals depicted in the tiles are uniquely crafted through the use of mosaic tile and color that create a cohesive composition of the subject.  The tiles representing aerial views of various geographic locations are abstract and emphasize the quality of their surface where mountain ranges and oceans are made visible through the texture and color of the tiles chosen.

 

Dylan Eddinger

Dylan created a series of cast plaster mouths to represent the social problem of sexual abuse on college campuses, and how victims are often silenced from speaking out by the fear of judgement or isolation from others. 

“This is a visual statistic about sexual assault on college campuses. Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, more than 90% of sexual assault victims will not speak out about their experiences due to shame or fear. The broken mouth in the middle represents the one who has the courage to speak out against their assaulter. The goal of this piece was to create a simple yet powerful portrayal of how that one person feels breaking the silence.”

-Dylan Eddinger

 

 

Ali Sisbarro

Ali created a series of cast plaster of lightbulbs to represent the stigma of learning disabilities in society today.

“There are 10 light bulbs because 1 in 10 children have a mental disability. So they all look the same except the top one, with a rusted bottom and not as white top. This signifies that mental disabilities aren’t talked about and they lump children together but you can still slightly see the difference.”         -Ali Sisbarro

 

William McCaughern

William displayed the controversial topic of “Fake News” in his installation of several cast plaster models of microphones labeled with ten news stations such as, Fox News, CNN, and NPR. The circular display of the microphones alludes to the endless cycle of “fake news” we are exposed to everyday.

“When putting prior political opinions aside…In today’s world with various social media platforms consisting of algorithms that adhere to what the user wants to see or hear, it is extremely important for people to branch out and get out of their shell to follow different news sources that they don’t necessarily agree with. By doing so, one is able to gather a broader perspective of how different people think or believe which enables a more unbiased opinion”

-William McCaughern

 

Shanna DiCarlo

Claire created cast plasters of beer bottles painted in neutral tones of grey and beige to represent the social problem of drunk driving among youths in today’s society. She also incorporates a photo image of her installation of the bottles at the foot of a car tire bringing her art into contact with the physical world and emphasizing the reality and impact of drunk driving.

“For my art piece, I sculpted several beer bottles to represent fatalities DUI’s can result in, and how dangerous it is to “have a couple drinks” at a party and getting behind the wheel after. The beer bottles are dark, and can blend into the color of a road or a highway to represent the darkness of driving under the influence, and it also represents how it can be “hidden” from our eyes. One individual may have a couple alcoholic beverages, and believes that he or she is able to get behind the wheel to drive home since he or she only had two drinks. Unfortunately, every situation is different, and in that circumstance, maybe he or she did not eat enough that day, and was not okay to get behind the wheel, causing a fatal car accident. According to the CDC, every day there are 29 motor vehicle deaths in the United States, due to a driver driving under the influence of alcohol. Take an Uber or call a friend for a ride, because it is not worth risking a life to drive.”          -Shanna DiCarlo

Dwelling: Home

Rozana Almaddah represented her idea of a dwelling in the form of a model replica of her home. On a large and detailed scale, Rozana’s piece stands out for it’s attention to detail of architecture in the hexagonal bay with a conical segmented roof, wrap around porch, and multi-dimensional elements of the house.

Dwelling: Metropolis

Ian Asaph represented his concept of a dwelling through the inspiration from the film cover of the 1927 movie “Metropolis.” Crafted from foam core and yellow and black paint, the model stands out for it’s expressive brushwork and sharp contours.

 

 

Automata Box Sculptures

The 3D Art class also worked on automata box sculptures (wood box structure with movable machine parts and assemblage top piece) that apply found or fabricated objects in an unusual context. Each automata box has a moving component that makes the sculpture come alive in a dynamic fashion that draws attention to a certain area of the artwork.

Automata Box: Wire Birds/Blue Landscape

Gianna Hoffman’s sculpture “Wire Birds/Blue Landscape” uses wire shaped into the form of birds to create the moving component of the box. The naturalistic blue landscape painted in the background contrasts with the wire birds which calls attention to the movement and spatial organization of the sculpture.

“My piece was inspired by nature and simplicity. I really enjoyed using different materials to create a feeling of calm that a person would experience in nature.

– Gianna Hoffman

Automata Box: Birds/Garden

Madison Scuderi’s sculpture, “Birds/Garden” is complete with a wooden bird box, plastic grass, and figures of a bird and flowers as well as butterflies. In Madison’s sculpture the bird and flower move up and down making the nature in her automata box come alive in the setting of a garden. The openness of her box with no back brings an element of open space in an outdoor garden .

 

Automata Box: Garlic/Found Objects

Hannah Kiley’s sculpture, “Garlic/Found Objects” resembles that of cupboard shelf crowded with miscellaneous items. The tape measure coils and the thyme herb swivels when the crank is turned, giving the sculpture’s intriguing randomness an eerie mystery to the found objects it contains.

A Visual Story – Student Digital Photography

A Visual Story

February 4 – 28, 2019
Coffee Hour: February 5, 8-9am

Victoria Ring ’19

Students experiment with digital photography in unconventional ways; taking the concepts of color, line, form, texture and space to construct images. These alterations to the photos allow the artist to convey their vision.  Focusing on principles of composition, the exhibit is a visual storytelling in photography.

This exhibit provides attention grabbing images that undermine the questions of social justice that are discussed in our nation today. From prejudice to environmental impact, these images will allow other students to continue the discussions that affect change in our society and on our campus. Photographer Roa Alshaer shared her feelings on the assignment saying it, “challenged me to address a sensitive topic that can be overlooked or neglected because we experience it in our daily interactions. I was inspired to address social prejudice that most of us get subjected to because of our ethnicity, religious believes, gender, sexual orientation or appearance.” Followed by the work of photographer peer Dylan Eddinger who was steered in the direction of ecological concern. He says, “I decided to take fine art food photography pictures of seafood dishes to bring attention to the issue, but instead the seafood is being replaced by the Ocean trash.” Using these creative ways to discuss the issues that presently impact our world. Each of the stories these photographers are sharing provide a provocative discussion to follow.

-Meghan Sack ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

Roa Alshaer ‘18
Photographer Roa Alshaer took on the topic of prejudice as it runs through the daily interactions of people in our society with an emphasis on the social stereotypes that are perpetuated through ethnicity, religion, gender, and race. In her own words, “The images almost look like mugshots as I wanted the shots to looks serious but I also wanted to empower the individual and show that these labels, although hurtful, do not have to affect us or change who we are as people”. Her work includes fierce images of her subjects showing their powerful reaction to the external judgement that inflicts its pain into people’s lives daily. Alshaer believes in change and simply says, “I want to bring awareness and encourage people to treat one another with kindness and not to mindlessly pass social prejudices.”

 

 

Dylan Eddinger ‘19
Entertainment Marketing Major

Photographer Dylan Eddinger tackles the overwhelming waste issue that our planet is facing today. Using the concept of fine art food photography, he features popular seafood dishes replacing the food with trash found in our oceans. His work demonstrates the increasing issue of marine ecosystems in jeopardy due to waste created by humans. Turning the tables on the topic, quite literally, he serves up the plastic and debris that is dumped into oceans each day with his photographic meals. As he says, “If nothing is done to stop trash from going into our oceans or to help clean up our oceans, there is supposed to be more trash than fish by 2050. It is believed that there are approximately 5.25 trillion tons of plastic debris in the ocean already; plastic bags, straws, cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans being some of the biggest problems”. Eddinger draws alarming attention to the mistreatment of our environment using the very benefits we gain from the sea– food.

Bridget Moran ’19

“Black and White” student photography

December 10, 2018 – January 25, 2019
Coffee hour:  Tuesday, January 22, 8-9am

This exhibition features film-based black and white photography as an expressive and creative medium.  Film based photography presents many unique challenges, but it is also very rewarding. A photographer must slow down and consider composition and technique to capture just the right image. Once the photographer captures these images, he or she must use special equipment and chemicals to develop the film. This requires great effort and attention to detail.

This collection of work was created by beginner photography students under the direction of Julia Staples and Dustin Ream. In this course, students learn how to use a film camera, how to develop negatives, and how factors like shutter speed or aperture, can affect the outcome of an image. Students selected this work from assignments throughout the semester, which had to do with things like the effects of light on a photograph, the many perspectives one can take as a photographer or experimenting with distance. This exhibition features a variety of approaches to these assignments, as well as students’ own personal expression and artistic vision.

~ Christine Torrey ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

Aedan Accardi ‘19
Marketing major, Art minor

Photographer Aedan Accardi chose a group of four compelling photographs, featuring a cemetery. With this series, Aedan wanted to capture the beauty of cemeteries by blending together both man-made and natural objects. In these photographs, Aedan uses light and shadow to portray a somber mood. Two of these works feature crosses, both up close and from a distance. This series of photographs is reflective and mournful, and the perspective and framing of the two photographs shows a skillful execution of photography techniques.

Maria Jimenez ‘19

Accounting major, Business Analytics minor

This group of photographs, taken by Maria Jimenez, features a variety of subjects and perspectives. Maria’s photographs are full of bright light and strong contrast. Her use of positive and negative space gives the viewer a clear understanding of the form and subject matter. Maria uses the compositional Rule of Thirds to create visually interesting and thought-provoking images. In two of these photos, Maria captures man-made structures from a distance, highlighting their magnitude. She also photographs with little contrast more natural scenes of the city. These images hold a certain softness and tranquility. With this series of photographs, Maria portrays different viewpoints, and sheds new light on the world in which we live.

Never Ghana Forget: Photo / Video documentary by Rachel Ledbetter

November 5 – 30, 2018
Service Project: Shai Hills, Ghana, Africa
Rachel Ledbetter, ’19

Rachel Ledbetter (IHS major and Art minor) volunteered at City of Refuge Ministries (CORM), a non-profit organization based in Ghana in May 2018.  The team at CORM is passionate about rescuing children from slavery and providing them with a safe and fulfilling childhood. Ledbetter’s research focuses on the injustices perpetrated on individuals in Africa. Through photography and video, this exhibit documents the people from CORM and their stories.

Read Rachel’s blog about her experience:
http://neverghanaforgetthis.blogspot.com/

History

Lake Volta is a man-made lake in Ghana built in the 1960s to create business opportunities for fishermen. This lake has an abundance of expensive fish to sell and profit from.  Fishermen buy children from vulnerable mothers, promising care and education.  In reality, the children are not educated, barely fed and forced into dangerous child labor.  Many children grow up to be slave masters themselves.

Intervention

In 2000, The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed officially prohibiting all forced labor, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion.  As a result, rescuing children from Lake Volta became a legal process, but unfortunately human trafficking still continues today.  Many fishermen do not realize that what they are doing is illegal.  The government will carry out raids on the lake and rescue hundreds of children at a time. CORM partners with community leaders and International Justice Mission to rescue enslaved children.

Prevention

The key to end human trafficking in the Lake Volta region is to begin with the mothers. The women often lack the necessary skills and income to adequately provide for multiple children forcing them to sell their children in the hopes that they will have a better life.  CORM fosters women; teaching them sewing, literacy, cooking, and basic skills all while their children are attending school. After a few years, the women will graduate from this sponsorship program with proper skills, a sewing machine, a small stipend, and thus a business to sustain themselves and their children.

Restoration

CORM fosters, feeds, and provides Christian based education for children rescued from slavery. There are approximately 70 children currently living in Children’s Village.  Many of them will begin their education at age 13 since they spent their early childhood working on the lake.  This year CORM will have their fourth graduating class.  Many of these students will continue studying at the university level.

If you would like to volunteer, or donate to sponsor a child, please visit CORM’s website at: https://www.cityofrefugeoutreach.org

 

“Art for Women Empowerment” curated by Samantha O’Connell ’20

Art for Women Empowerment

Curated by Samantha O’Connell ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant and Summer Scholars Recipient

Art for Women Empowerment has a mission to support women in the art world, their art, and the subjects they paint. The all-female artists’ show will support women artists and will help bring attention to the lack of female representation in museums and galleries.

Through the many major feminist movements throughout our country including “Me Too” and “Time’s Up,” it is important to continue the fight towards equality for women. Art plays a major role in society, and I believe it is important to use art’s influence to promote the fight for feminism both inside and outside of the art world. The fight for equal rights for all women includes equal standards for women and men within the workplace and a world where women are viewed as equal to men, socially, politically and economically, and view women as more than sexual objects, but capable and powerful.

By bringing attention to the injustices and inequalities women face, the world will begin to recognize the problems and work towards change. Visual art appeals to people, which is why we go to museums; however, behind the art’s face value there is meaning, and when we take that meaning and apply it to what we see, our perspectives can be influenced, which makes art a more impactful means of promoting change. In terms of feminist art, the intentions behind the works in this exhibition, are to put emphasis on women empowerment and the inequalities women face within the art world but generally in the outside world as well. Feminist art allows viewers to reflect on its message and relate that message to the viewers’ own lives by sparking questions such as: Do I face inequality because of my gender? Do I contribute to gender inequality?

Abby Lustig

Abby Lustig is a painter from Pennsylvania. Ever since she started volunteering for a non-profit financial rehabilitation center called Homefront, her art has taken a focus toward empowerment. Abby volunteers for the art program Homefront offers, and many of the people who use the program are women. After interviewing each woman who comes in, Abby paints her portrait. “The questions I ask are about what the artist loves about herself, how she uses art to empower herself, and what aspect of the world she would like to change.” Abby uses oil paint for each painting and depending on the portrait, the creation of each one can take from 4 to 10 hours. Abby finds that each portrait turns out better when she doesn’t analyze every stroke, rather paints what she sees.

After having volunteered at Homefront for over a year now, Abby describes the people she’s worked with as “some of the most self-motivated and intelligent knowledge-seekers I have ever met. Just the other day, I had a conversation with a woman whose favorite things to talk about are quantum theory and color theory. Each visit, I          grow closer to these artists and learn more about their character, not their “story.” Another woman who I am also going to paint, has daughters who have degrees in criminal justice and psychology and are extremely successful… I realized how selfless this woman is. She gave everything to her children so that they could have a better future, and she is now pursuing her education.”

Abby feels that her goal as an artist is to “remove the stigma that many people associate homelessness with and replace it with an understanding of their character and actual art.” Abby wants artists to be empowered and she wants to further her knowledge of “what great and inspiring people they are… “I intend to make the artists gain confidence, and in her mission to boost confidence and empowerment through art, Abby has built upon her interview questions in addition to asking about what the artist loves about herself. She asks questions regarding the artists’ emotions and feelings they get when they create their own work.

 

Alexis Trionfo

Alexis Trionfo is currently a student at Elizabethtown College with a minor in studio art. Although her traditional media was painting with oils and pastels, she found a new love for digital photography after taking a class her senior year of high school. Alexis feels that she can truly capture moments with her photography. She particularly enjoys photographing in black and white; by doing so, Alexis feels like she captures the person’s soul rather than their clothes or their particular surroundings.

Alexis’s artistic process goes beyond the technical bits of photography. She feels the closest she comes to capturing a person’s soul is when they’re smiling. As she describes, “It feels like their truest, purest forms. I like to just talk with the people that I’m photographing as normal, hoping to catch them off guard, more vulnerable and real.” It is very clear that Alexis portrays the souls of each individual she photographs whether in color or black and white.

Additionally, Alexis’s work empowers women. She feels that women, although they should be treated equally in a political and economical standpoint, women empowerment goes beyond this, because women deserve to be “viewed equally, spoken to equally, judged equally, etc.” By capturing the souls of those she photographs, Alexis unveils the way should be viewed in a society as “strong, beautiful, intelligent, creative, and independent.” She states, “Women do not need to be validated by a man before they contribute, they have earned the right to be heard and seen without justification. Empowerment has to come from that belief, and it starts with us being given a fair chance to do so.”

Courtney Agnello

CJ Agnello is a 20 year old visual and literary artist currently living in Brooklyn. She is presently pursuing her BFA at the School of Visual Arts, NYC set to graduate in 2020. Over the last two years of working towards her degree she has experimented with many different styles. While her work’s message does not come across as immediately feminist, the way she is boldly making her mark in fields that are dominated by men however is. Film, literature and painting are all artistic pursuits that she pursues and these mediums still today in 2018 are chiefly populated by men. Her work speaks for, and stands for itself when it comes to its power, feeling the presence of the women she paints and the vitality they lack or embrace. Agnello’s paintings, in this exhibition, feature paintings emphasizing the beauty of women from all different ethnicities and backgrounds, including her own self portrait. Not only does Agnello want her work to be known, but her face and named to be attached to it.

Along with portraits, Agnello’s work also includes an experimentation with body form. The colors and strokes imitate the wide range of bodily forms. By bringing them all together, she accentuates the beauty of all bodily forms. On the other hand, Agnello’s wood canvas of three figures, the question arises, who are these men? Women? This ambiguity is to emphasize the beauty of the inner person rather than their physicalities, by utilizing bright and bold palettes. When one observes these various and powerful forms, one comes to know her passion and talent for the art world.

“Floating Blue” photographs by Thomas Pickarski

Floating Blue
June 12 – August 2, 2019

Having spent the last 10 summers traveling through arctic regions, Pickarski discovered a deep love for the eternal beauty of icebergs. He finds them to appear sculpturally magnificent, as if crafted in a way that seems too perfect for this world. In this series of photographs, he aims to portray both the ethereal beauty of icebergs, as well as the otherworldliness of the landscapes in which they exist.

 

 

Thomas Pickarski has been traveling to “the iceberg capital of the world” on the west coast of Greenland for approximately ten years.  While traveling back to the US from Iceland in 2008, Pickarski caught his first glimpse of an iceberg from 30,000 feet.

“My plane flew over Greenland.  I was mesmerized by the sights!  My next thought was, ‘Someday I’ll go there.’  As I sat with that for a few minutes, I realized the dullness of having just jammed an enormous amount of time between myself and what felt like an urgent calling…Today, I can’t imagine a summer going by without my visiting the ice,” said Pickarski.

Pickarski has always been amazed by “abstracted and unusual shapes in nature.”  He finds these shapes not only in icebergs but also in the jagged and smooth arctic deserts in the volcanic island of Iceland and in the alluvial fans of the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile.  Pickarski has been able to see all of these forms in nature because of his month-long travels all around the world.  He says that he has “discovered that being out of (his) element, is (his) element”.  When asked to elaborate on this and on other things he has discovered about himself through his travels, he says that he has had to confront unfamiliar situations due to being placed in environments and cultures that are very different from his own.

 

“It appears the confrontation is with situations, but it is ultimately with myself, and my limitations and fears.  Going through the confrontation, I come out on the other side with the realization that my interior coordinates have been shifted.  The lines inside me have moved, and my capacity has expanded.  It feels like nothing, and everything, at the same time.  This is the part of traveling I look forward to the most.”

 

Icebergs have become Pickarski’s signature form since first traveling to the west coast of Greenland, the largest ice fjord in the Northern Hemisphere.  He now travels there every year in late August to photograph the icebergs found there.  He takes most of the photographs from boats or the hillsides surrounding the ice fjord.  He especially enjoys photographing during “the blue hour,” which he defines as “the hour after sunset, and just before darkness, when the ice takes on deep blue tones.”  Pickarski believes that the icebergs are at their best in terms of color in the absence of bright light.  The absence of the sun’s light allows the lines on the icebergs to become more present, casting varying degrees of intense blue shadows across the ice.  These details allow the iceberg to become the focal point of the picture, standing alone against a cloud, ocean, and ice backdrop.

 

Pickarski edits the photos with Aperture, a basic but now obsolete software.  He explained that he was trained in classic darkroom and chooses to do as little editing as possible.  He said, “using very basic software keeps me focused on maintaining a purity to both my intention as well as the image.”

 

The pieces included in “Floating Blue” were chosen by how they related to the blue theme of the body of work.  Pickarski’s favorites are the final few in the collection.  They were all taken on the same night, in the same final moments of “The Blue Hour”.  One has an unusual hint of violet, while the last image truly moves Pickarski.

“This iceberg sits alone, further away from the cluster.  It has dislodged from the bottom of the fjord and has begun to move.  As the boat is pulling me away, we see a vast spaciousness around the iceberg as it floats into the darkness, beginning its journey to the sea.”

 

The “Floating Blue” series transports the viewer to a place of stillness and calm.  You feel as though you are there, looking at the icebergs from yards away, in the final moments of the day before the sunlight completely disappears.  The blue shadows on the icebergs warn of the coming night but the lines, cracks, jagged edges, and dips in the ice hold your attention and make your eye follow each detail, making the viewer forget about all else.  The photographs command your attention and there is something new to be found in each one every time they are gazed upon.  They illustrate to us a world untouched by human hands, that stands alone against the test of time.

 

~ Elisabetta Mannello ‘21
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

“Shelter” photographic installation by Andy Mattern

February 18 – March 21, 2019

Shelter is a project visualizing time spent underground in Oklahoma storm cellars. These cool, dim spaces are both havens and tombs.  Mattern uses the cellar as a life -size camera with the air vent as the lens.  The result is an abstract arrangement of celestial circular forms mimicking these cellars that punctuate the landscape of the mid-west.

Andy Mattern utilizes unique methods of photography to create the images found in “Shelter.” The storm cellars, so prevalent in the central United States, act as Mattern’s “camera.”   Mattern uses the air vent as the camera lens; pressing light sensitive paper up to the vent allowing the only available light to filter through creating a lone image.  What emerges is a rather unusual image, a black and white abstract orb.   “It is barely even an image,” says Mattern, “yet the images capture the impression of the place, with the focus being on the interior.”

            

The name “Shelter” refers to the fact that this project took place inside of Oklahoma storm cellars, or storm shelters, where local people take refuge during tornadoes. In this exhibition, the photographs are intentionally scattered to mimic an aerial view of Tornado Alley in Oklahoma. This was a new experience for Mattern, one where he “felt like a tourist,” as he had never been inside of a tornado shelter before this project.  Having to go door to door asking to be let into the cellars, Mattern soon found a “welcoming environment” in this unfamiliar location.  He notes that this new, albeit scary, location allowed him to feel connected to the community around him.  Perhaps this speaks to this universal understanding of shelter, and the consolation it can bring in the most dire of circumstances.

~ Maggie Nealon, ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

             

 

Andy Mattern is represented by Elizabeth Houston Gallery, New York