I had the pleasure to participate as a reviewer in the 2020 New England Portfolio Reviews over the August 1st-2nd weekend. The program brings in gallerists, educators and photo professionals from around the world to look at new work, offering feedback in a joint venture produced by the Griffin Museum of Photography and the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) supported by sponsorship from Sprint Systems of Photography, Digital Silver Imaging and Panopticon Imaging. For me the reviews offer the chance to look at new work, projects in progress as well as projects resulting from years of thought and development and offer the artists a fresh perspective on their work. There was a nice mix of student work alongside the work of established artists and those starting on second careers. The review sessions provided an opportunity to speak with artists and reconnect with a few photographers who have exhibited at the Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts previously.
Due to COVID-19 this eleventh annual review was held as a virtual event for the first time. The staff and volunteers working in the background really need to be commended for their effort and dedication in making this virtual event such a success. While viewing and reviewing work online is less than ideal it also provided some clear advantages over in person portfolio reviews. For anyone hesitating to participate in a virtual review session I would suggest the virtual format is both less stressful and less expensive. It offers the participating artists the comfort and safety of presenting from your own studio or home. As bonus, it makes it possible to share work you may not have planned on presenting in response to feedback from the reviewer. The trade off, like all Zoom based meetings, is that the opportunities to socialize and make new connections among your peers are much more limited.
What follows is quick look at the photographers who’s work I had the pleasure to review, presented in alphabetical order. I have no doubt we will be presenting more of their work in the future, in the meantime, have a look and I encourage you to visit the websites for a more in-depth look at the work you find interesting or to connect with the artists on social media.
– David DeMelim, Managing Director Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts
Selections from the 2020 New England Portfolio Review
Presented by the Griffin Museum of Photography and the Photographic Resource Center since 2009
Liz Albert: Family Fictions
Liz is working primarily with found photographs, pairing them to create diptychs and sequencing to create new open ended narratives for the viewer to contemplate and complete. The result is equal parts nostalgic and thought provoking. Family Fictions was recently exhibited at the Danforth Museum at Framingham University New work in progress uses “found” Polaroids to explore memory and the associations triggered by these little time capsules.
Peter Baumgarter: The hand is us
Hands signal. Hands hold. Hands reach. Hands probe. Hands caress.
In this series Peter explores the question writer Neil Shubin asked in his famous book, Your Inner Fish…
“What is it about the hand that seems so quintessentially human?”
The hand is our primary way of experiencing the physical world, one of the earliest ways of saying “I was here” and the one part of our own body we see the most. Explore the expressive power of the hand through Peter’s work and ponder the advent of opposable thumbs…
Learn more at www.pjbaumgartner.com
Becky Behar: Seeing You, Seeing me
Seeing You, Seeing Me began as a photographic collaboration between Becky’s 21-year-old daughter, Leah and herself… Leah is in front of the camera while I stay behind it. However, in our images we share the roles of observer and participant. In these pictures, I see her becoming an adult, while she sees me in the role of mother and photographer.
The photographs make use of quality of light and composition borrowed from the Dutch masters to great effect. This approach serves to both slow the viewer down and imbue the images with a weight and importance they wouldn’t have otherwise. The series reflects on what gets passed from one generation to the next including knowledge, confidence and hopefully values.
Learn more at www.beckybehar.com
Dawn Colsia: Our Voices
History will look back on the 2016 to 2020 period as a critical time. Under the leadership of 45… we have reached a tipping point… our core values are being endangered and trampled… We rise above the assault on our values with our voices.
We demonstrate to express our voices to reinforce basic American values that seek truth, compassion, public health, empathy, freedom, due process and equal opportunity. When my grandchildren ask me about this crucial period, I will say that I was part of the change. I demonstrated, documented our fury, called upon our representatives to make change and voted to ensure that I made a difference.
Dawn undertook the Our Voices project to not so much to document as to advocate for change and motivate people to vote.
Learn more at www.dawncolsia.com
Mark Eshbaugh: Solaris Obscura
Referencing various SciFi themes Mark produces this series of Cyanotypes for the 21st Century using a process leveraging digital imaging technology to the fullest.
Learn more at www.eshbaugh.com
Dennis Geller: Urban Time
In the images included in Urban Time Dennis explores and attempting to represent how, or to reflect on how the human eye actually reacts to light in the process of capturing an image. The images… do not attempt to accurately replicate, the chemical complexity of vision at the first levels of processing. They ask the question, what has changed in a scene as we look at it? Those taken at intervals of very short periods of time might have a passing resemblance to the changes at the retinal level… We don’t actually see the changes, just their affects, but we are aware of them. Calling them out, as these images do, offers a different way to experience the ordinary.
Learn more at www.dennisgeller.net or connect @gellerdennis
Bill Gore: Life Could be a Dream
Bill’s series, My Life Could Be a Dream explores perception and illusion while attempting to visualize the mental process of combining new and remembered visual inputs as we build our own realities.
The town where I live, the cities that I visit, and the woods where I walk reveal themselves to me as a stream of images that feed my illusions of what is and what possibly will be. These places bear constant witness to the social and environmental crises we simultaneously create and try to fix. I see pictures of the humane with fragile possibilities as well as gothic greed and deterioration. But the conscious mind is selective, and reality becomes illusive.
Learn more at www.billgorephotography.com Connect @billgorephoto
Anne works in a variety of emulsion lift and image transfer processes creating work that straddles the line between photographic representation and a more painterly representation. In this current body of work she transfers photographic images on to objects to make visible the memory the object represents. The work explores the weight of memory and goes a long way to explain the thought process behind hoarding.
I watched the TLC program “Hoarders” for many years… As I watched the episodes I noticed there was a common thread of grief among the hoarders… their grief was like an anchor and they were stuck—held in place by this weight… Their collected objects are an expression of their grief, and they are a way to hold on to what they have lost. I realized their objects have become intertwined with their recollections, and it is those memories that they are really holding onto. A handful of stones always brings me back to the rocky shores of Maine where I spent many summers. A paintbrush is a reminder of my immigrant great-grandfather, who painted houses to get by because nowhere else would hire him.
Learn more at annehopkinsphotography.com Connect @ahopkinsphoto
Sanjé James: Welcome to the Suburbs
Sanjé a student working on her BFA at Lesley University. Current work, Welcome to the Suburbs explores the influences Pop culture has on forming identity, expectations and attempts to visualize how she was influenced by it in her upbringing in the suburbs compounded by issues of whiteness and blackness
I found myself idolizing celebrities and wishing that I was more like them… Raised in a white suburban community, I quickly realized that I did not belong there… I struggled with how to view whiteness and blackness… I am now taking ownership of my own body and image… through an exploration of self-portraiture, appropriated imagery and mixed media, I am exploring my past… while imagining a new future.
Learn more at sanjejames.myportfolio.com Connect @Moosekatt
Marcy Juran: Myth, Memory & Violets
In Myth, Memory & Violets like much of her other work, Marcy explores and celebrates daydreams, endless summers of youth and a simpler time with… Jingles, Bubbles, Fireflies And always, always, violets.
I am firmly grounded in the New England landscape I have known since childhood. Growing up as an introvert in a family of extroverts, my refuge was a field of hay and wildflowers just beyond my backyard – a place to read, write, and daydream as I navigated my circle of family and friends. The wildness of the nearby meadows, woods, and brook were a welcome counterpart to the sameness and repetition of my post-WWII suburban neighborhood.
Learn more at www.marcyjuran.com Connect @marcyjuran
Mark Levinson: Extracts
A keen eye, a keen mind and persistence allow Mark to capture these Extracts of his daily existence. The images are composed in camera and produced without manipulation in the post processing. Levinson presents a series of clean compositions carefully lifted out of their natural environment to create a series of quiet yet poignant images
Learn more at www.marklevinsonphoto.com Connect @marklevinsonphoto
Hide And Seek explores a different way of seeing, as an outsider, a visitor on extended stay who notices and questions scenes never even noticed by natives who passed by everyday.
Anna writes – I am fascinated by the hidden, unknown, and yet to be discovered. Images tell their own nonverbal story. This body of work tries to capture the feeling of seeing what is directly in front of you while being aware of hidden layers and reflections… The world through my lens is multifaceted and nuanced as I am both a third culture child, and I raise third culture children of my own. Third culture kids, raised by immigrant parents, develop built-in filters.
Learn more at www.annalhphotography.com
William Morse: A Tree Falls
Chance occurrences that drive evolution and an ability to recognize and celebrate patterns come together in A Tree Falls to explore the full cycle of life.
For Morse, the closely-observed landscapes manifest both the chaos and the miraculous success of natural selection… the patterns and abstractions in growth and decay are beautiful, irresistible and thrilling. I approach these scenes with a sense of awe at the struggle to survive and flourish, as well as an intense wonder at the perpetual unfolding of the world.
Learn more at www.morseeditions.com
Lisa Redburn: Garden Water Tapestries
Water Tapestries in the Garden presents seasonal stories from the garden, floating through time a series of carefully crafted floral compositions by Lisa Redburn. Lisa is also one of our current exhibitors as part of the collaborative group project Visual Conversations currently hanging in our Focus Gallery.
A passionate gardener, much of Lisa’s photography focuses on shifting relationships in water, where boundaries between real and reflected are fluid. Redburn seeks to explore the tension between fluid and fixed, visible and invisible, looking both at what is passing and what is to come.
The process of creating water tapestries in my garden weaves together vital strands of my creative life. The botanica mingling in the water and the sky and trees reflected there are old friends, seen in new ways. And ephemera from the garden I’ve left behind bring texture and color – and live on – in my photography…
Learn more at www.lisaredburn.com Connect @lisaredburn
Elizabeth enjoys the quiet and solitude of photographing at night and is the co-organizer of the Greater Boston Night Photographers. Her current work explores the process of light painting both to illuminate details in an otherwise dark scene or to created forms out of light itself in front of an open shutter.
The magic and mystery of night time has been my inspiration and my subject for a long time.
Learn more at lisaryanphotography.com Connect @drbetty_
Gail Samuelson: Passing Through
In Passing Through Gail presents carefully paired images featuring an interior and an exterior… to reveal intersections and relationships between domestic spaces, the natural world and personal memory…
Learn more at https://gailsamuelson.com Connect @gailsamuelson
Jean Schnell: I was there
Jean has been photographing in old buildings both inhabited and abandoned exploring the spirit of the people who inhabited, worshiped, played, worked and loved in the buildings… whether found or intentionally added, objects act as portals for my imagination, memories and feelings… I was there started as Jean downsized from the home she raised her children and… while cleaning out closets, rooms and hidden space found the objects left behind triggered surprisingly strong and vivid memories…
Jeanne is also one of our current exhibitors as part of the collaborative group project Visual Conversations currently hanging in our Focus Gallery.
Learn more at www.jeanschnell.com Connect @jeanschnellphoto
Patricia Scialo: The Hand Made Print
In The Handmade Print series Patricia is experimenting with the interaction of material and subject interweaving the two, allowing the pulp and the fiber to help form the image. Some of the visible elements are actually embedded in the paper itself (in the example shown above, the blades of grass framing the plant are cast into the paper) while the more photographic imagery uses a mixed media approach of applied light sensitive emulsions on hand-made paper.
Starting with fibers from plant material, a pulp is created for paper-making. Each sheet is hand formed and design elements from natural materials are added. The texture of the paper along with the tones from natural flax, cotton and banana leaf are strong components of the final photographic print. I continue to re-work the surface by applying encaustic, oil, pastel and graphite.
Learn more at www.patriciascialo.com Connect @patricia_scialo
Nicholas Whitman: After Ryder
Photographing in a falling light Nicholas builds on the work of painter Albert Pinkham Ryder. In After Ryder bold interlocking forms of darks and lights form two scenes in one, one where the dark surface is the subject and one where the light takes center stage. This transitional landscape leaves us hovering at the intersection of light and dark constantly changing.
As light falls off in the evening, the visible world transitions from something to nothing. That progression flows from color to muted color, to the absence of color, to formless tone, to complete blackness – nothingness. Along that progression the scene can be disassembled and the components recombined to make different, though plausible subjects.
Learn more at https://nicholaswhitman.com Connect @nicholaswhitman_photo