Synthesizing The Photograph ; Artists Explore The Changing Dynamic Of Photographic Art In Pca&D Exhibition. [Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA)]
(Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Laura Knowles
The world of photography has changed drastically in recent years.
"Everyone is a photographer, and we take pictures of everything," says artist Anita Allyn, noting that iPhones, pocket-size digital cameras and other tools give people the opportunity to snap images on a daily basis.
So what takes photography into the realm of art That's what the artists participating in Pennsylvania College of Art & Design's photographic exhibition "Photo/Synthesis" are out to examine.
The exhibition, which runs through March 1, features works by Allyn, Piper Brett, Julianna Foster, Roxana Perez-Mendez, Tim Portlock, Mark Stockton and Linda Yun.
The artists are all members of Vox Populi, a collective and gallery that works to support the challenging and experimental work of underrepresented artists in Philadelphia.
In "Photo/Synthesis," they are looking at photographs as the subject of their art. For some, the photographic images come from the Internet or other sources. They gather photos and mold them into something else entirely.
In Mark Stockton's installation titled "Index," the photographs are gleaned from archival images of historical figures and faces. Some - Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Jimi Hendrix and Edgar Allan Poe - are recognizable; others are not as easy to identify.
In "Index," Stockton uses color to convey a sense of unity in the collections of photographs. There are four sets of color-coded photographs in red, blue, yellow and green. The collections are displayed on the wall in color-coded file-type boxes. Even though the subjects of the photographs are not truly related, they give that impression. And that's exactly what Stockton is trying to show.
"The colors give a sense of connectivity and significance," Stockton says. "They make the viewer think and try to categorize the images."
Allyn uses images to literally build mountains. The photography instructor and artist uses archival and Internet images of mountains from all over the world in "Ivory Tower Picnic." The huge installation of mountains fills PCA&D's front window display on North Prince Street in downtown Lancaster.
There are mountain ranges set against somewhat whimsical red-and- white checked patterns. And then there are the people. In a vintage photograph, people have gathered and they're looking upward with eerie expressions.
"It is actually an old black-and-white photograph of a group of people witnessing a lynching," Allyn explains.
Once the viewer knows that, the playful spirit of the "Ivory Tower Picnic" takes on a far more somber significance.
In Roxana Perez-Mendez's display titled "My English Is Not So Good Looking," images of attractive young women are set against various backgrounds.
"I am looking through the lens of my own experience as a Puerto Rican woman in both my photography and my performance art," she says.
Each of the artists brings a unique perspective to what is considered to be photographic art. Where once it was frowned upon to use other people's images, these artists are showing that it is OK to use the millions of photographic images that are out there. It's what you do with them that transforms them into art.
Piper Brett uses everyday images to convey an unexpected message in her work titled "Cats and Coke," with its two cozy-looking white cats who seem to have indulged in a sleep-inducing drug.
Linda Yun creates brilliant, shimmering night skies in "Reflect," which takes its cues from the seductive flicker of light on water, and an overwhelming sense of frustration, desire and sadness shadowing all that remains beyond reach, Yun says.
Julianna Foster creates ethereal images of clouds and swirls of soft, hazy colors in her work titled "Swell," which is intensely realistic.
Tim Portlock also examines a certain type of realism in "Sundown," which shows broken-down architectural images of telephone poles, gas stations and beat-up hotels against gorgeous sunsets.
"Photo/Synthesis" is a site-specific installation, using drawing, sculpture, digitally created images and large-scale photographs toward multiple strategies employed by the artists," says gallery director Heidi Leitzke.
"It is the synthesis of photography and art."
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