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Artists respond to political climate – they always have. Today’s dogmatic populism and polarization permeates the worldwide ether, provoking artistic responses as varied as the steady assault of Tweets. So, it was with both relief and joy that I encountered Christopher Rauschenberg’s curation of the PRC’s 22nd Annual Juried Exhibition, on view through August 18th, 2018 in the VanDernoot Gallery on the campus of LUCAD in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was not intended to be a themed competition, but it might as well have been called “Connections” for all the engaging narratives in this strong and cohesive exhibit. Connection – what a refreshing choice.
A portfolio of four photographs by each of the eleven artists selected for this highly anticipated annual show provides viewers with a deeper glimpse into their styles and viewpoints than the typical single-print sampling of most juried shows. Moreover, Rauschenberg’s thoughtful curation emphasizes the connections drawn in and between compelling personal narratives. Exhibit wide, there are many commonalities: all of the views are representational, many are documentary, most are in color and much of the work evokes portraiture, with affecting relationships drawn between photographer and subject.
Intriguing pairings provide the most explicit examples of conversational narratives. The paired images in Strangely Attracted by Karen Davis draw analogies in both composition and content between the human gestures she photographs on the street and similar details she cameos from museum paintings. In Constructed Realities by Thomas Whitworth, anonymous nude portraits purchased on eBay are combined with his own still-life photographs, suggesting both visual likenesses and associative storylines. Julie Mihaly assembles colorful, enchanting collages of photographed mementos and equally vibrant snippets of her written memoir in affecting diptychs about her mother and other close relatives in her series The Attic.
The personal becomes universal through the viewfinder of a sensitive photographer. Lee Kilpatrick presents captivating psychological dramas in his series of panoramas, Together, revealing a multitude of subtle and overt interactions occurring in casual group gatherings. In documentary photographs from disparate locations and cultures, Matthew Kamholtz’s empathic, layered and vibrant frames capture youthful interactions in Scenes from Childhood. In B&W photographs that convey timelessness, Rebecca Moseman provides a poignant window into the lives of one of the world’s most reclusive groups in her series Irish Travelers. Exploring “perceptions of self” in a group of underserved Pittsburgh school kids, Francis Crisafio’s B&W series Holdup in the Hood addresses issues race, class and gender in a penetrating, personal way.
Several photographers offer a sense of shared experience in their perspectives on life’s most emotional transitions. In her quietly humorous and probing images in 20 Mile Radius, Casey Davis examines the boundaries and expectations of her new reality as both photographer and mother. Mining her own daughters’ transition into womanhood, Tira Khan captures understated, everyday scenes rife with bittersweet juxtapositions between youth and adulthood in her series Growing Up Girl (feature image and below). In ultra close-up B&W portraits of herself and close friends, Lauren Shaw’s series Maps revisits work she started forty years ago, tracing mortality with intimate, texturally rich lines and markings.
Human connections can reveal themselves in any photographic genre. Nick Gaffney’s series Orbiter conjures searching self-portraits in his landscapes that isolate objects like individuals, suggesting mood and context using scale and surroundings. In EXPOSURE 2018, juror Christopher Rauschenberg has selected an interrelated gathering of absorbing narratives that affirm the power of connections.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: https://prcboston.org/exposure2018/
Feature Image: “No More Braids, 2013” (Detail) from the series Growing Up Girl by Tira Khan (courtesy of the artist).