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By Contributing Writer Suzanne Révy
Known for his emotional multi-panel portraits, artist David Hilliard was asked to jury a themed exhibition at the New England School of Photography’s Garner Center. The resulting show, Intimate View, is a lovely ode to those moments when we cherish our private spaces and confidences. Incorporating strikingly different interpretations of the theme, the exhibit is surprisingly cohesive, with the work of thirty-two selected photographers on view through April 21st, 2017.
Benjamin Flythe’s two images employ muted, cool colors and dramatic light to reference the Biblical story of Samson in one, and the drowning of Ophelia in the other. Each is cinematic and monumental, yet are presented within the confines of an ordinary bathroom. In Samson, a kneeling young man is giving a haircut to another young man who is seated before him on the toilet. It’s a tender moment between the two, but the hyper-realistic rendering of the image confers heroism to a simple act. In Ophelia, Flythe uses a darkened room with dramatic light to depict a female figure in a full bath to reference the death of Ophelia. The struggling figure is a visual tour-de-force in the turbulent water, fraught with a sense of foreboding.
Untitled #3 by Jenna Patrone is a gorgeous, close-up black and white portrait of a woman. The eyes of her strikingly expressive face are closed, her head tilting to one side. She is framed within a frame within the image, a skewing which kept me in thrall. The portrait is at once casual and aloof, and we learn from the artist’s statement that she is at home, but living in a changing neighborhood. Patrone is exploring how individuals inhabit personal and public spaces in areas that experience rapid change.
Two portraits from behind, Ashley Comer’s The Woman in the Silver Dress, which recalls Nan Goldin’s work, and Allison Barnes’ 8”x10” contact print Haircut in the am, which shares a sensibility with Walker Evans, offer glimpses into the lives of others. The shoulder blades of Comer’s figure and tufts of hair of Barnes’ image invite the viewer into decidedly different places… one to a night out on the town and the other into a light dappled room during what seems to be an ordinary moment of reverie.
It is notable in a show about intimacy that in some images, the figure plays a minor role or is altogether absent. Richard Kent’s charming image, Dictionary, depicts the artist’s Chinese dictionary with worn and yellowed pages, packed with bookmarks and Post-it notes. The soft palette and diminutive size of the print emphasize the close nature of his relationship with this object he calls an “intimate companion.” In Mural, Emily Sheffer’s softly focused room is dreamlike, and though there is the hint of a person seated in the foreground, the viewer’s eye is directed by light into the room and the mural on the back wall. Sheffer describes her intention as “an attempt to understand the disorienting duality of the self, the random bubbling of the mysterious unconscious into the strict reality of the conscious.” Hilliard’s selections reflect something of Sheffer’s ideas of duality by imbuing the intimate with a reverential and heroic spirit.
Suzanne Révy is a fine art photographer who creates visual diaries of her family’s life and is a Contributing Writer to What Will You Remember? Earning her BFA from the Pratt Institute and MFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Révy has worked as Photography Editor at U.S. News & World Report and Yankee Magazine and has exhibited her work at museums and galleries throughout New England and in New York. Révy is currently on the faculty at the New England School of Photography and a Board Member of the Photographic Resource Center in Boston.
For hours, directions and more information about this show, go to: http://www.nesop.edu/events/the-garner-center/juried-group-show/
Feature Image: Detail of photograph by Corinne DiPietro (courtesy of the artist).