Photography professors present their artistic collections
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 14:01
The current exhibit at Fairbanks Gallery showcases artwork of the five photography instructors at Oregon State University. Julia Bradshaw, Chris Becerra, Steve Anchell, Harrison Branch and Jim Folts use a variety of processes to express themselves through photography.
A reception was held in Fairbanks Gallery on Wednesday. The event was open to the public and the majority of attendees were students and faculty of OSU. Discussions of processes, content and composition prevailed as the artists shared their work with guests.
Bradshaw exhibited a series of works rooted in the concept of the relationship between books, photography and their ever-developing relationship with society. Her experiments with color and time in her compositions, and her use of inkjet and silver gelatin processes have produced an enticing collection of photographs.
Bradshaw’s exhibit welcomed attendees as they entered the building. She included a tryptic composition of photographs of stacked books.
“The association with time is all about what photography is,” Bradshaw said. “Upon seeing them, the viewer will relate to them because of their orientation. They are impossibly tall. What I like about photography is that it causes questions to arise about what is real and not real.”
Bradshaw gave a few hints at her secrets to creating these photographs, but preserves the mystery by not giving away too much information and leaving it to the viewer’s imagination. She plays with colors and the nature of their values in her compositions of stacks of worn book pages.
Branch explained his traditional process to guests of the reception. Through use of a silver palladium, Branch creates achromatic compositions that air on abstraction and showcase the intricate patterns that occur in nature. According to Branch, the ancient process is not an easy one.
“I expect to carry 50 to 60 pounds of equipment every time I go out to photograph,” Branch said.
In support of this laborious process, the rewards far outweigh the load of equipment it requires which is evident in the meticulous details and archival appearance of his work.
“I love to work in the dark room and I will always work this way,” Branch said. “I still love getting my hands wet and the smell of the chemicals. I still love smelling badly when I come out of the dark room.”
Becerra uses a digital process that, although still in the same family of photography, is different from what Branch prefers. Becerra explains he began his position as a professor of photography mostly because of his family. As an owner of a photography business for seven years, his interest in the medium is obviously deep-rooted.
“I never thought it would become full-time,” Becerra said. “I tried to perfect my craft as I went along.”
Becerra’s collection of photographs narrates wedding scenes with intimacy and freshness while highlighting moments of the big day with delicate care and amazing clarity. The viewer feels the intensity of the embrace of a newly wedded couple with a dramatic backdrop of tumultuous storm clouds.
“Some people tell me that they really like how I photoshopped those clouds in the back, and they ask, ‘Where’d you find those clouds?’” Becca said. “But those are actual clouds and there really was a storm coming, so it’s all real and I feel like that’s really, part of my style. I’d rather capture who the people really are and their true experiences.”
The photo captures the blur of dancers under string lights, exuding the excitement of a reception. A photo of a young bride right before the ceremony captures a fragility as well as a sense of anxious anticipation.
“Some of my favorite images are brides getting ready,” Becerra said. “I think they’re so honest, and there’s a nervous, raw emotion that I really enjoy capturing.”
Contrasting to Becerra’s photos, Anchell’s work showcases another aspect of human culture: tattoos. His images bring attention to commentaries of those who get ink and insight into reasons for expressing their unique personalities.
Anchell, who was unable to attend the reception, has a history of publishing photography books and of contributing photos and writing for photography publications. His photos in Fairbanks Gallery are vivid in color, exciting in composition and intriguing in subject matter.
Folts presents a collection of photographs directly reflecting his reaction to the loss of a dear friend, John Maul, the former department chair of the art department.
His exploration and experimentation with portraiture have influenced the series, all taken inside the office of Maul. The objects in his photos capture the essence of the man who knew and spent the most time with them. In one photo, Folts created a panoramic shot of the office by fusing multiple shots into one.
Intimate titles and push pins add a sense of familiarity and comfort to the series of smaller black and white photos.
“These are objects that intrigued me,” Folts said. “These are heavily stylized, they’re taken out of context from where they were in the studio. Each one has a caption and every one has a very precise number involved. This is an attempt to call attention to the fact that there’s nothing precise about any of this, and in fact all of those numbers are made up. The captions are a collaboration between me and my memory of John and what he might have said about them.”
Guests stood silently and took in the photos as Folts explained them. His work is personal and intimate, inviting the viewer to spend time with them.
The exhibit will continue until Feb. 6.
Alice Marshall, arts reporter