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Each year, the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) in Boston invites national photographers to submit a body of work for juried selection, offering Boston audiences an opportunity to discover new and exciting talent in a little more depth than just one piece on a wall. This year, a relatively new talent in Boston served as juror: Sarah Kennel, The Byrne Family Curator of Photography at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM, Salem, MA) selected fourteen photographers – from about 1000 submitted pieces – to display 2 to 5 works apiece in EXPOSURE 2017, the PRC’s 21st Annual Juried Exhibition, and the last of its kind in their current Boston University location. The exhibit will be on view through June 10th, 2017.
For such a politically tumultuous year, the photographs in this show have a quiet and pensive feeling. Many search for cultural or personal identity – or both. Using her camera as a diary during 2016, Ashley Comer went looking throughout New York City for those trying to find themselves, seizing on moments of intimacy and reflection amidst the constant urban hum. In a serene series of interiors looking to the outside, George Nobechi captures feelings of disconnection and the search for belonging with piercing subtlety in Unmoored. Interestingly, the hushed palette and smaller print sizes chosen by these two artists in disparate circumstances convey a similarly meditative tone.
Across the gallery, Camilo Ramirez’s vibrant photographs from his series The Gulf mine curious and dramatic juxtapositions in a questioning investigation of American culture along the southern coast. Greer Muldowney’s Urban Turbines offer an adroitly understated look at the insidious invasion of turbines on the traditional landscape of New England, perpetrating as yet undetected cultural changes in scenes that are at once real and surreal.
The picturing of hidden or obscured elements symbolizes the deep hidden meanings in some intensely personal work. Brian Kaplan’s Adults Should Not Swim Alone suggests a prescription for personal fulfillment in cleverly peculiar landscapes that prove to be both humorous and poignant “self-portraits”. Seductive shadows and light bathe Molly Lamb’s lyrical, enigmatic imagery questing to unravel her mysterious family history in the series Take Care of Your Sister. Priya Kambli’s selective occlusions on inherited family photographs use ritualistically patterned flour to simultaneously conceal and reveal aspects of her family story that perplex and intrigue her.
Several other photographers have employed transfigured imagery to layer and enhance meaning. In her B&W prints depicting World War II reenactments in Texas, Ellie Ivanova alters her emulsions with an acid-bath “mordancage” process, creating a parallel between the somewhat unpredictable degradation of the print and the capricious ways memories change over time. Thomas Gearty explores the literal and figurative accuracy of likenesses in Book Marks, his subtle study of the effects of time and pressure on the transfer of portraits onto adjacent book pages. In The Spoken Word, Gregory Jundanian marries image and word, inviting hand-penned phrases by Boston area poets around the mattes of his expressive portraits.
Finally, two photographers used the purity of unadulterated color photographs to relay very different meanings while celebrating the sheer joy of seeing. In his unmanipulated, sweeping American landscapes – captured with transparency film and chemically processed to achieve superb color saturation – James Cooper’s alluring compositions feature simple shapes and geometries with minimal detail, elevating his work into elegant abstract imagery. In her highly metaphoric series Ekphrasis (“a rhetorical term for the process of employing one artistic medium to describe a work of another medium”), Kim Llerena photographs verbal descriptions of visual artworks that have been transcribed into Braille in a manner that interprets an essential element of the text that it features. Through the additional process of transfiguring a tactile code into a two-dimensional printed image, she further questions what is lost or gained in translation (Feature image and below).
In her selections, juror Sarah Kennel celebrates the allure and beauty of subtle, thought-provoking work, a welcome respite from the bombastic tenor of discourse these days. The inspired installation allows the opening eyes and mind, as the PRC rewards Boston photography lovers with a captivating finale exhibition in their current location, on view through June 10th, 2017.
The fourteen selected artists in EXPOSURE 2017 are: Hannah Bates (Dorchester, MA), Ashley Comer (Brooklyn, NY), James Cooper (Petaluma, CA), Heidi Fancher (Washington, DC), Tom Gearty (Cambridge, MA), Ellie Ivanova (Denton, TX), Gregory Jundanian (Dedham, MA), Priya Kambli (Kirksville, MO), Brian Kaplan (Brookline, MA), Molly Lamb (Quincy, MA), Kimberly Llerena (Washington, DC), Greer Muldowney (Somerville, MA), George Nobechi (Tucson, AZ), and Camilo Ramirez (Jamaica, Plain, MA).
For hours, directions and more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www.bu.edu/prc/schedule.htm
Feature Image: “Connotation Procedures: Photogenia” (Detail) from the series Ekphrasis by Kim Llerena (courtesy of the artist).