September 8 - October 22, 2016
Reception with the Artists September 17 5 - 8 pm
View Elin Spring's review Below
555 Gallery is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition, Visionaries, featuring works of photographers
Walter Crump, Cynthia Katz and Smith Eliot, with accompanying sculptural work by Joe Caruso.
I photograph cityscapes, landscapes, people, details and found objects - anything that catches my eye. I merge most of my photographs, melding or welding multiple images, producing photographs that hover between photography and painting, leaving time, and words behind.
I have been especially attracted to still lifes - why, I don’t know. But from the first time I saw, in art school, Chardin’s still life paintings of domestic objects, I was mesmerized. Later, discovering the still life painters of 16th & 17th century Northern Europe, Morandi’s sparse but luminous paintings of jars and bottles, William Bailey’s elegant ceramic “cities”, and most of all, my teacher Walter Murch’s object paintings, I began to explore, photographically, my own particular brand of still life. Instead of daily objects such as shinny apples, dead fish, polished copper vessels or battered crockery found in those painters’ paintings, I began to photograph the mechanical and electronic detritus of our culture. Over the years, I have collected and photographed objects discarded from the fading industrial world, fragments of defunct mechanisms, mangled circuit boards, worn gears and tangled rusting whackmadoos. Like Morandi who arraigned and rearranged his dull crockery, to create his luscious nuanced paintings, my constructed still lifes are not permanent; once photographed, they are dismantled and reassembled in different configurations. I think of these impermanent structures as machines without a purpose or machines that have lost their purpose invoking rusting metropolises or ambiguous edifices, elusive images appearing as cloudy wrecks of a dubious age, blending fiction and reality, shivery things surviving on the edge of memory.
Cyanotypes, or blue prints, are a non-silver photographic process that go back to photography's origins in the 19th century. Also from these early days, the garden has been a source for imagery. Drawing on these themes, I mix my favorite chemical recipe and turn to my garden for the bulk of my summer imaging. Gardening and cyanotyping share a process-oriented approach that is slow and timely, ethereal, spiritual and ultimately ephemeral. Happy surprises, and the promise held by chance keep me at it, and failure propels me toward next year's possibilities, and new works. Each summer's garden is different; the same holds true for each cyanotype session.
Following my longstanding recycling habit, I began to play with the accumulated cyanotypes, cutting, stitching, and attempting to find ways to use the bits I liked. I experienced delight in the process of transforming the elements into new images, not unlike the experience of planting seeds each spring to mark the start of another garden season.
This new work, Gods, Totems, and Tricksters, consists of totem-like sculptures, power figures, and representations of animals, the symbolism of which reflects man’s enduring belief in the sacred, in powerful spiritual forces, as well as a strong connection to the natural world. The vignette is intended to provoke and to invite viewers to imagine and to construct a narrative for the scene before them.
The pieces, somewhat crude and primitive, are made mostly from wooden and metal objects that I have rescued and reclaimed from the trash, from thrift shops, and from my personal belongings. They have re-emerged with references to Aboriginal totems, Nkisi Nkondi Kongo power figures, spires from Buddhist temples, and symbols from ancient Egyptian culture. They are inspired by my appreciation of the sculpture of Cy Twombly and by my travel to various archaeological sites.
I use plaster as a medium for each assemblage. I like the way it drips and forms dollops of what reminds me of meringue. Coupled with white paint, the plaster serves to unify each piece as well as the tableau as a whole. I have inserted several papier mache cats, inspired by the Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami, which are also employed as a means of linking each element and sparking the imagination of the viewer.
My abstract paintings are highly textured and have a coarse sensibility with a lot of rough and sharp edges. In some places, the surfaces feel like sandpaper or a rocky ledge particularly when I have used shards of plaster, remnants from the assemblages, as well as sand and quartz. Like all things archaeological, the paintings involve destruction and disturbance as well as reconstruction. They are excavated, re-layered, and re-worked, giving each piece additional weight and texture. They remind me of markings found by the seashore or on weathered walls.
Smith Eliot holds a Bachelor's degree in Art and Design from the University of Chicago. She completed her MFA with concentrations in sculpture and photography at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her focus as an artist is in photography and mixed media installations.
"Smith Eliot's work centers itself upon an intuitive exploration that surfaces the wants and anxieties of women in relationship to passing youth and sexual desirability. The lush, seductive imagery somewhat performative in nature is magnetic and draws upon the power of unleashed, female beauty and the darkness that seems to surround beauty's impracticality. In some of her works feminine beauty is a useless tool that bodes darkness and damage. In others the images celebrate the inner strength of the mischievous imagination of women as warriors who fight for and against themselves."
- Marie Sivak Director, Northview Gallery, Portland Community College
When is a rock more than a rock? Or a machine greater than the sum of its parts? When artists have a strong vision, their work can alter the way we perceive the world. When 555 Gallery director Susan Nalband was growing up in Minneapolis, Naives and Visionaries, the 1974 exhibit of contemporary art curated by the legendary director of the Walker Art Center, Martin Friedman, changed her life. Following Friedman’s death this May, Nalband is mounting the show Visionaries as a tribute to the spirit of that transformational show. It features the photography of Walter Crump, Smith Eliot and Cynthia Katz, along with sculptures by Joe Caruso, at 555 Gallery in South Boston through October 22, 2016.
Walter Crump’s penchant for experimentation infuses his dreamlike photographs. Still-lifes he constructs from found objects that strike his fancy – and he especially fancies machine parts – are photographed, disassembled, and digitally merged with translucent textures to create other-worldly images that defy time. Are we looking at the past or future? At once colorfully whimsical and darkly dystopic, Crump’s photographs draw viewers into an excursion of the imagination.
Smith Eliot explores the inner sanctum of the psyche in compositions that unite the corporeal with the natural world. Utilizing a variety of analog cameras, her photographs of women, wildlife and gardens are rife with the symbolism of fertility and mortality. “Alternative processes” such as wet plate collodian tintypes and encaustic on organic surfaces like wood produce lush, sensual images. Some of the unique works on display are encased in antique dry plate frames, adding to the earthy spirituality of Smith’s imagery.
Cynthia Katz celebrates the resilience and frailty of nature in her handmade cyanotypes and collages. Arranging the bounty from her summer garden onto light-sensitive papers (creating camera-less photograms), she develops rich blue cyanotypes using rudimentary chemicals in a method that dates back to the origins of photography. Although straightforward, these techniques produce highly variable outcomes, resulting a delightful array of effects that Katz further manipulates into multi-image frames and sewn collages in abstract expressions of imaginative joy.
Photographers Crump, Eliot and Katz, as well as the sculptor Caruso, all revel in objects they find, either in nature or discarded by others, in their inventive artistic combinations and re-combinations of distinctive work, a fitting tribute to the transformative power of creative vision