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Whether across generations or across town, Edie Bresler tells photographic stories that explore and express our human connections. Her fearless interactive collaborations and inventive blend of artistic techniques instill Bresler’s photographs with a sense of joy and wonder that is worth celebrating. On view now through Thursday, April 19th, 2018, Bresler is exhibiting two ongoing series, Anonymous and Helping Hands, in her solo show Based on a True Story in the Trustman Art Gallery at Simmons College in Boston.
Beginning in July 2017, Bresler wandered neighborhoods in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston in search of willing participants in her collaborative project Helping Hands, her creation of Cyanotype “light drawings” of connections with strangers. Cyanotypes are a camera-less process by which people make direct contact with specially prepared light sensitive paper for a period of about 10 minutes in the sunlight, after which the paper is rinsed with water to produce deep blue prints. Although Bresler got plenty of refusals, over 100 people have participated so far. By engaging strangers in her unscripted communal act, Bresler produced unique and charming cerulean silhouettes of outstretched hands and arms that reflect a sense of kinship and hope as they dance across the gallery walls in an uplifting “community of yes”.
In her series Anonymous, Bresler’s ongoing quest for connections takes the form of imaginatively reestablishing the inscrutable relationship between vintage photographic subject and photographer or in this case us, the viewers. Appropriating a selection of professional nude photographs that were all titled “Anonymous” and made between 1843 and 1910, Bresler digitally freed each subject from its studio backdrop. Then she re-photographed each against a window looking out onto a variety of suggestive landscapes or combined them with alternative archival processes such as Cyanotype. After fashioning her own compositions with dreamy, amorphous backgrounds and experimenting with different scales, Bresler further elaborated her figures by embroidering, sewing or drawing costumes or blankets onto her photographic prints as a gesture of renewal and second chances. By re-inventing these mysterious souls who were otherwise lost to time, Bresler has colorfully connected them to us with a restored a sense of character, personal history and possibility.
Connections are something we all seek in life and in art. Edie Bresler has a decided knack for finding and cultivating such connections with a creative passion that infuses her photographs with radiant empathy. Treat yourself. Based on a True Story will be on view in the Trustman Art Gallery at Simmons College through Thursday, April 19th, 2018. For more information, go to: http://www2.simmons.edu/trustman/exhibits/2018/bresler/
Feature Image: “Anonymous woman 1855, 2017 (Autumn)” (Detail), pigment ink print with embroidery by Edie Bresler (courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas, Boston).