Monday, June 27, 2011

Cyanotype Landscapes

Over the past year or so, I have been experimenting with large scale landscape images printed out on Pictorico film and then printed through the cyanotype process. Ive endeavored to take these images out of traditional matting and framing formats and instead, hang them in the "natural environment" of the gallery space. While the images are stunning hung like that, as they embody a beautiful kinetic aspect as well as a remarkable translucence, they are decidedly harder to sell given their exposure. I decided to enter the images in a local show at Pekin here in North Dakota so I was forced to find an alternative display method that would protect the images while still evoking aspects of the kinetic and translucent natures that I love.

The result is a large shadow box that allows the image to hang on a steel rod that spans the width of the frame. I sewed a sleeve made of asian paper to the back of the image on both top and bottom, with the top of course as the hanging device and the bottom as a weight to keep the image off of the plexi.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Artist Statement from The Archival Turn

The Archival Turn

Emerging from my interests in memory and vernacular photography this collection of work intends to explore several related questions:

What guides our thinking about historical artifacts?

How are these ideas at play in the curation of an archive?

What role does the archive play in the formation of memory and history?

Traditionally, an archive has been regarded as a repository of objects and information essential to human history. However, in the last half of the 20th Century it underwent a profound conceptual change shifting its emphases from the objects to the archivist, and from place to process. At the heart of this archival turn is a fundamental skepticism of Modernity’s scientific methodologies.

Research has shifted from the objective recording of static and isolated objects to focus instead upon the curatorial power, and the cultural and historical embeddedness of the archivist. This turn has illuminated the inescapable fingerprint of archivist in the formation of the archive, human memory and ultimately history itself. As a result, layers of contexts, presuppositions, and the embedded power relationships between the archivist and archive come to the fore.

With two trajectories in mind, I have created an archive to explore the subjectivity of human engagement with objects while emphasizing the often-overlooked physical nature of the photographic object. I have utilized traditional archive forms of drawers and artifact trays, accession numbers and acid free enclosures to both suggest Modernity’s curatorial processes of empiricism, isolation, and limited access. These methods also intend to re-establish the viewer’s awareness of the photograph’s physicality. By modifying these forms, viewers may explore the perceived stability and instability of the relationships among the artist as curator and the objects themselves. Additionally, strategies of translucent layers, white-on-white printing, and the imaging of culturally shared symbols and collective memories, allows me to create a variety of contextual lenses through which we may explore the subjectivity of our engagements with historical objects.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Shots

I realized a week or so ago that I had never photographed the covers and bindings of my handmade books. So, while I still had access to them, I thought I should get that done. Besides my own records, I hope to enter them into some shows as well.

Other than the dust that inevitably clings to this sort of fabric, I love the shots with the shallow depth of field.

Theology & the Arts Reading Lists

The other day I was surfing through Duke's DITA program webpages and ran across a helpful reading list helpfully broken out into reading levels. As I looked over the two lists, I found several new texts that I was unaware of before. Over-all, its a great list...check it out.

Here is a link to it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two Person Show at Third Street Gallery

Friday, Jessica Christy and I hung our work down at the Third Street Gallery here in Grand Forks. We will be having a reception on June 30th from 7-9. Please come and check out the work.

Much of the work will be from our MFA exhibitions but I do have 9 new pieces (which I will show a few of when I get them shot).

Monday, June 20, 2011

New ideas, musings, and what-if's

So I have been thinking a lot lately about what I want to explore in the coming year and how it might be a good time to do some research for Ph.D apps. One of the ideas I keep coming back to comes out of my MFA work with vernacular photography. Ideas of its memorial nature, its narrativity and physicality come to the fore. While photo theory is dense and difficult, vernacular photography is often an estranged cousin of most photo histories. But what potentials lie in this oft dismissed realm of photography?

While I have been aware of photography's contentious relationship with memory for some time, its narrative and material nature are more recent for me. What connections might I be able to make to a theological approach toward vernacular photography? Could there be potent connections between the narrative interpretations of photo albums and narrative theology, biography, etc? What about portrait photography as iconography? Could either or both be pared with some sort of priesthood of believers? What does a sacramental theology and approach toward the arts have to offer in an engagement with vernacular photography? Given the digital revolution as, what seems to me another step away from the physical and material nature of the photographic object, could a sacramental theology help us re-engage the physicality and materiality of photographic objects. Are there historical arguments in the iconography debates that might lend direction on these ideas?

While these questions are incredibly broad at this point, my hope is to begin to draw a few threads together to refine a better set of questions.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

NYC and Barton Benes

During our brief visit to NYC I had to the remarkable opportunity to meet with the artist Barton Liddes Benes. I came to know his work through the UND art department and his connection to the North Dakota Museum of Art. While his work is somewhat transitioning, Barton is widely known celebrity relic pieces. Using traditional religious relic motifs, Benes transforms them with our cultures religious-like worship of celebrity. Bits of celebrity trash and other cultural oddities make their way to Barton through a vast network of friends and into his work. The diversity of relics is astounding from Frank Sinatra's fingernail to Madonna's panties, these little bits of ephemera gain importance via their provenance.

Barton has also done significant artwork on AIDS using his own blood in some pieces, failed AIDS medications, and even curing potion from an African healer complete with text for recitation.

While Barton may be taking a break from some of the relic work, he is still prolific in his work. His current work involves making mandalas out of the world currencies and prayer rugs out of varieties of stamps. UND recently completed a prayer rug edition of 27 for is beautiful and bright.

If you are not familiar with Barton's work, a great place to start is his book, Curiosa.

This was my second visit to Barton's home and his hospitality is remarkable. I am thankful for the time I had to spend with him and for his willingness to spend some time with a few North Dakotan fans.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Its summer. Finally. But somehow I seemed to have missed spring. I know how I missed it too. And my profound lack in posting shows it as well. Once I finished the MFA show, I jumped into a conference paper that I presented just last week at the College Theology Society. While I knew what I was going to write about, no words had actually been written at the beginning of May. I spent hours reading and writing during that short window between the beginning of the month and when we left for a brief pre-conference holiday in NYC. That which normally takes me a 3-4 months to write, I completed in just under 4 weeks. I will post more on the paper later.

For now, I am busy readying work for a 2 person show at Third Street Gallery that will go up sometime next week. Jessica Christy, my former office and studio mate at UND, and I will be putting up the remnants of our MFA show and some new work as well. So I have been working in the studio since my return from NYC printing a new series of work to be integrated into the show and a new series of small trays. The work will take the form of the small trays but will have prints behind like the larger lots of photos printed in white on white. Originally I printed them in color as a means of replacing the 2 books which I have sold, but I felt they were largely unsuccessful. So, I returned to the white-on-white printing and I am much happier about them. I am also adding plexi to this series of trays. Ive cut the front 1/3 of the top of the tray off and will attach it to the plexi so that the plexi might slide out, thus keeping a sense of functionality and access to the object rather than simple framing, while adding a level of protection not in the others. Ive not yet assembled the new pieces...hopefully today. I will post picts when I get them done.