For the exhibition “Chemistry: Explorations in Abstract Photography,” curator Karlyn Benson, director of Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, NY, has selected six photographers who push beyond traditional photographic processes in search of new definitions of what a photograph can be. In this exhibition, on display at Garrison Art Center May 21 through June 19, process itself replaces the narrative and documentary content of traditional photography. The artists, Ellen Carey, Jill Enfield, Anne Arden McDonald, Amanda Means, Wendy Small, and S. Gayle Stevens, have spent years experimenting with photographic chemicals, processes, and technique.
S. Gayle Stevens creates wet plate collodion chemigrams using resist and non-resist techniques on a metal or glass surface. She employs developer that has been used many times to increase the silver content, creating surprising color as she draws into the chemigrams with plants and feathers.
When Carinda Swann, artist and Executive Director of Garrison Art Center, saw a few small-scale pieces by these artists at Benson’s Matteawan Gallery, she was impressed, despite their size, by their powerful presence. “Karlyn told me some of the artists made large-scale work as well, and I immediately invited her to curate a show.” The artists’ alternative, experimental methods result in mysterious, thought-provoking images that blur the lines between art disciplines. Viewers are left wondering. Is it a drawing? Is it a painting? Is it a photograph?
“Perhaps more artists are turning to these processes because photography itself has become so common in our lives,” curator Benson suggests. “Almost everyone walks around with a camera in his or her phone and digital photography has made it possible for anyone to take a photo at any time, cheaply, and with instant gratification. There is no longer the sense of anticipation waiting for photographs to be developed. The photographic processes used in the works in this exhibition are not predictable; there is always a sense of surprise when the final image is revealed. The main difference between this work and traditional or digital photography is that it is more like a drawing or monoprint. Each work is unique and cannot be duplicated.”
“Chemistry: Explorations in Abstract Photography,” curated by Karlyn Benson. Artists include Ellen Carey, Jill Enfield, Anne Arden McDonald, Amanda Means, Wendy Small, S. Gayle Stevens; May 21 – June 19, 2016. Opening reception: Thursday, May 21, 5 – 8pm. The Riverside Galleries at Garrison Art Center, 23 Garrison’s Landing, Garrison, NY.
Also on view: “Christopher Manning’s Mixed Media Works in 2D & 3D,” curated by Thomas Huber.
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