We are so excited to showcase more of our talented artists from our 26th Annual Members Exhibition, curated by Alexa Dilworth.
Join us this Thursday August 13th we see presentations from four photographers followed by a q&a about their work. Dennis Geller, Rachel Jessen, Sandra Klein and Jerry Takigawa. These are the stories we will be seeing and hearing about.
Introducing our featured artists –
Close your eyes, when open them and look at the first object you see. In that first instant, when you think you are seeing an object, your eye is seeing a smear of colors and brightness. It jumps at least three times, and in each jump only a small bit of the image on the retina is in focus. Light impinging on the retina causes chemical changes, which causes neurons to carry signals to the brain. Each change take time to dissipate, but the eye does not stop moving during that time, so that every spot on the retina is affected by light coming from different parts of the object, causing a cascade of overlapping chemical changes. The images here, motivated by processes of vision, ask the question: What has changed in a scene as we look at it? As we look around us, we don’t actually see the changes, just their effects, but we are aware of them. Calling them out, as these images do, offers a different way to experience the ordinary.
This campaign season, I went back to Iowa, my home state and the first state in the nation to hold caucuses for the presidential primary. Not to cover the candidates, no. I turned my camera away from the politics—the faces and speeches of presidential hopefuls, the conventions and rallies, the moments votes are cast—and toward the people and places of Iowa. I’m making my way through a feat known as the “Full Grassley,” an endeavor named for the long-time Iowa Republican senator wherein candidates make a point to visit each of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties vying for that coveted caucus victory. I wasn’t looking for support at a local town hall or fish fry—instead, I searched for the stories in the individuals and communities that make Iowa the unique, contradictory, and complicated place it is. From Adair to Jasper to Wright, I’m documenting everything from corn shucking to TrekFest to ghost towns to grandparents, and that which lies between, beyond the campaign trail. My hope is that my photographic Full Grassley results in a distinct perspective of Iowa, one that, while alluding to its political significance within the caucus system, demonstrates the limits of such a lens, and reveals it to be much more than the first state to assert its electoral opinion. It’s a portrait of a place—my home—which continues to exist even after all the TV cameras and politicians have gone.
“In the dark times Will there be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About dark times.” Bertolt Brecht
Is it possible to portray a grief so deep that it is difficult to endure? For a number of years, I have visited Japan in winter, but this past January, less than a year after the tragic death of my oldest son, I longed to visit this surreal, almost otherworldly land with the anticipation that I could grieve here in a way I couldn’t at home. The stunning snow-covered landscapes I captured for this series, with their muffled silence, hiding almost all color, all vestiges of humanity and the modern world, almost seemed to weep for me. Japan’s unfamiliar religious rituals and ancient objects, with their histories and iconography, affected me deeply. The images in this project straddle the real and surreal. The re-contexualizing of photographs and ephemera, where images are composited to include historical art and objects, reflects my altered state of reality. The materiality of these collages satisfies a need to define my personal despair with a more physical, unique object, as I cut and sew into the photographs as an act of memorializing not only my son, but my own journey into a new reality. Grieving in Japan is a meditation on a life that feels unhinged and unbearable. I experience periods of isolation from all that is familiar as I am pulled far away into the unknown world of loss. And yet, I am reminded, at moments, of the small joys this world reveals, inviting me to experience flashes of utter pleasure, even as I mourn.
Balancing Cultures is a personal history project that reveals the racism and xenophobia that permeate American culture. The discovery of old family photographs compelled me to express the impact on my family resulting from being incarcerated in WWII American concentration camps. The emotions expressed in this project bring humanity to the historical record. I seek to give voice to experiences my family kept hidden for shame and fear. If silence sanctions, communication is resistance. The process of researching and creating these images greatly informed my understanding of what happened in the past—and what is important going forward. These images are a reminder that hysteria, racism, and economic exploitation became a force during WWII in our country. Xenophobia can live just under the surface of civility and emerge in a permissive environment. Cathy Park Hong wrote in a New York Times article: “After President Trump called the Covid-19 the “Chinese Virus,” in March (2020), the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council said more than 650 incidents of discrimination against Asian-Americans were reported to a website it helps maintain in one week alone.” Decades have passed since Executive Order 9066 was enacted. Many Americans are only now learning of this transgression. There is no scientific basis for race; race and racism are social constructs. Balancing Cultures recalls a dark chapter in American history—censored in part by the Japanese precept of “gaman” (enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity) and the fear that if my family spoke too loudly, it might happen again. I raise my voice today because it is happening again.