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Perceptive Still: New Views

Photography show at the ACPL

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader

2013-10-31


Fort Wayne's art community has gone through a cyclical development for the better part of the last decade, expanding as great talent rises through our local universities, interacting with our institutions and steadfast individual artists, and then deflating as they either had families and fell out of the rotation of exhibitions and special projects, or opted to move away to find other art markets.

Recently, our scene has been graced by a succession of incredibly talented photographers in varying styles, experience, and influence. This core group has inspired over a dozen other photographers, making images in a contemporary dialogue, and finding degrees of both fine and commercial success both locally and nationally. Throughout the originating processes of this community, many of these photographers came to know one another and elevated the curatorial framework for photographic exhibitions locally as well. While not wholly independent of traditional curatorial strategies, contemporary photography can take on many unconventional formats while attempting to accommodate everything from documentary portraiture to non-objective abstraction.

"Perceptive Stills," curated by the Allen County Public Library's gallery librarian Amy Griffin, is an excellent example of the kind of quality photography available to Fort Wayne audiences both from a curatorial and fine art perspective. Griffin gathered six diverse local and regional photographers whose work is as complex and subtle as it is straightforward in its formal beauty. "Perceptive Stills" has been in the ACPL Main Branch, in the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, since mid-September. Griffin explains, "This exhibition presents the public audience with a range of concepts, sensations, and observations in picture form….Looking closely, the viewer begins to hear, feel, and taste these perceptions beyond the physical art objects on the wall; perceptive stills evolve into lasting impressions."

With the exhibition itself, the Krull Gallery is filled with vignettes of each of the six artist's works along the exterior of gallery while the interior is filled with a regional high school exhibition. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is placed into Jarrid Spicer's vignette, one of magic realism within an urban setting, creating a strong reference to works from the first half of the 20th Century like Ben Shahn, Romare Bearden, and others, through the use of vibrant color, unnaturally high contrast, and dramatic compositions.

Spicer's pieces, like "Boston, July", which depicts a nondescript subway car full of everyday individuals, giving an idea of the flavor and culture of the city and its people. The images' have temporal qualities to describe the climate of the space, like "Indianapolis, February" which includes overcast skies and snow. While Spicer's images are not full of any sublime beauty they are captivating in their ability to document with heart, harkening back to the roots of photography prior to its strong journalistic capacity. Spicer references early photographers whose work included a great deal of social activism like Walker Evans and Robert Frank. "In this Body of work I've been trying to capture the current state of our country. In many ways I am shooting the same homeless men, religious zealots, and train passengers that Evans and Frank shot. But these are also portraits of a time and place that are unique."

Almost antithetical to Spicer's work would be that of Daniel Dienelt, a Fort Wayne guidepost for the arts for the last decade. Dienelt's work centers on the formalistic aspects of abstraction within photographic constraints. Dienelt describes his work as an, "attempt to visually recreate the initial moments of the awareness that occurs either within flashing split seconds of consciousness, or during the stage when the seconds of consciousness develop into a novel." The prescriptive nature of Dienelt's experimentation while producing the work becomes incredibly interesting when one realizes that he often works with traditional film to produce his images.

Dienelt is also unique in Fort Wayne's photographic community for his use of gallery space in the form of installation pieces. Dienelt's piece in "Perceptive Stills" is a multi-piece installation entitled "Static Whispers Between the Universes." "Static Whispers…" includes radically different images representing the opposing descriptions of our perceived temporal consciousness. Interestingly, this installation, unlike many past works, bares a strong resemblance to Judy Pfaff's prints and other works on paper. Pfaff, a renowned installation artist, is known to ink up objects and print them in multi-layered organic abstractions, which have some visual reference to the collaged photographic images that Dienelt uses to make his digital prints.

The other artists in the show — Amelia Morris, Jason Swisher, Aaron Walker, and Molly Stronczek — each embody a different principle or photographic style, like Morris' staged self-portraiture, Swisher's panoramic urban landscapes, Walker's focus on noir, and Stronczek's fresh, editorial, and haunting elegiac images. Stronczek's images are especially enticing because of their immediate relevance within contemporary photography. Through the use incorporated thread stitched into her photos, Stronczek technically created mixed media constructions which are photographic by nature. This additional tactility of her images produce signals which allow us to open our personal storehouses of memory and instinct to be captured and implicated with her works. "Whether it is positive or negative, every place we visit becomes a part of who we are, and we are bound to them", Stronczek explains. Overall, Fort Wayne's photographic community continues to develop itself into a robust pillar of the arts, and "Perceptive Stills" further highlights what that community has to offer.


For More Information about the Artists:
Daniel Dienelt: danieldieneltstudio.tumblr.com
Amelia Morris: thanksandsorryphotos.com
Jarrid Spicer: jarridspicer.com
Molly Stronczek: mollystronczek@gmail.com
Jason Swisher: swishism.com

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