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A surprise lurks in every photograph of the Griffin Museum’s 23rd Juried Show. As each work exposes its own secret, revelations fly like sparks and ignite the imagination. Exhilarating discoveries unfold like shared confidences between photographer and viewer. Jurored this year by Hamidah Glasgow, Executive Director of The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, this entrancing exhibit is on view through September 1st, 2017.
Open call competitions are a gamble, you never know what will be submitted. But this year’s gifted photographers coalesced with juror Hamidah Glasgow’s discerning eye and open heart to kindle a little magic. The photographers selected explore intensely personal and sometimes daring subjects, uniquely re-framing universal themes such as truth, memory and the ever-popular, identity. But one of the most exciting aspects of this show is how these photographers express themselves with many techniques and combinations of methods that weren’t even available a few years ago. They are forging the bold new directions of photography.
The stage is set by Ed Friedman Legacy Award winner Claire A. Warden, whose striking B&W photogram, “No. 09 (Not Basic Color Theory)” synthesizes the alluring truth and purity of theoretical concepts like geometry with the messy, human variations in biology – expressed by her scratches, smudges and saliva – that shape our imperfect and fluid identities. Infused with celestial mystery, Warden wraps the question of who we are and what we are becoming into the fathoming of what we are seeing.
The idea of pondering mysteries pervades the entire exhibit, in ways both enigmatic and specific. Charles Rozier’s (Arthur Griffin Legacy Award) intimate photograph of a greying woman collapsed over a crossword puzzle, pencil clutched in hand, is mesmerizing in its ambiguity. Brightly illuminated and also engulfed by a cloak of quiet darkness, the woman’s inner and outer worlds appear to similarly contrast. Hannah Bates’ (Griffin Award) winner is a delicious “gotcha” as the realization dawns that the woman in her “Kitchen” has been cleverly incorporated into a scene using a convincing backdrop. With divergent approaches, both photographs lead the viewer into questioning what we know versus what we think we know, urging us to look deeply into the images and our assumptions.
Examinations of personal history yield more mysteries. Astrid Reischwitz’s “Prickly” (Honorable Mention) unites the images of two familial generations with artifacts from her ancestral German home in a diptych exploring the legacy of her heritage on future generations. Using an evocative collage with Japanese Origami boats skating across an archival image of WWII internment camp residents, Jerry Takigawa puzzles a bitter and secretive chapter in both his family’s and America’s history in “Possession of Navigational Charts of Monterey Bay” (Awagami Factory Paper Award).
Portraiture is well represented in the exhibit, with wonderfully original viewpoints and inventively suited techniques. Suzanne Révy’s enchanting “Turtle” (Director’s Award) uses selective focus to draw our curiosity to her diminutive creature, conveying empathy, vulnerability and a much wider perspective regarding the survival of our planet’s creatures. The familiar story contained in Molly McCall’s “One Wish” (Honorable Mention) is transformed from a forgotten vernacular photograph of a little girl’s birthday into a bittersweet longing for the past through her fanciful, wistful application of archival artistic techniques. Alyssa Minahan mines the essence of the photographic medium in “Positive/Negative (Aiden)” (Honorable Mention) to convey the passage of time, capturing mirrored impressions of her growing child in her image of an 8×10 B&W negative and its positive, fleeting imprint on an unfixed piece of gelatin silver paper.
The abstract and fantastical inform some metaphorical works. Randi Ganulin gracefully contemplates the ephemeral in “WhiteRed1” (Honorable Mention), a flowing constellation of nets that she elaborates with delicate drawings and embossed lines to suggest the connectivity of a neural network. Robert Calafiore’s unique pinhole camera C-print, “Unseen 2” (Honorable Mention), is a psychedelic inversion of ordinary household items, arranged and photographed to exalt the first humble decorations purchased by his immigrant parents for their family home. With completely different approaches, both photographs are delightfully original forays into a world of alternative perceptions.
In this show, straight realism packs an equal punch. Tema Stauffer’s quietly reflective “Fishing Shacks, Hudson, New York, Winter 2016” (Honorable Mention) contrasts starkly with Clare Benson’s “To See The World Twice”(Honorable Mention), a provocative and disturbing – but no less introspective – meditation on the struggle to survive. There are so many intriguing selections in this exhibit, from new explorations using ancient techniques like Michelle Rogers Pritzl’s psychologically stirring Tintype and Amy Giese’s textural, emotive Chemigram to those using combinations of the newest technologies to ponder venerable questions, like Joyce Lopez’ sophisticated geometrics in color-shifted skies that riff on the rules of the natural world or Barbara Kyne’s layered and skewed landscapes symbolizing differences in human psychology and perception. And while the originalities in technique are truly impressive, the imaginative and aesthetic ways in which these photographers use them are the best discovery of all.
For directions, hours and more information about this exhibit, go to: http://griffinmuseum.org/show/23rd-griffin-museum-juried-exhibition-ed-friedman/
Feature Image: New Holland & Franklin, 8X, Lancaster, PA” (Detail) by Richard Kent (courtesy of the artist and Griffin Museum of Photography).