Friday, October 30, 2009

Self Re-Defined by Richard Olderman

I am so happy to introduce you to Richard Olderman's work. He is the reason I pursued photography. He is not only a fabulous teacher and person, but also an amazing photographer, offering up the magic in the natural world. You will need to visit his website to check out his multitude of portfolios...For this blog, I would like to share his self portraits which are some of the most amazing creative transformations.

Here are some excerpts from a review from an exhibition at the Evanston Art Center...

"In the current exhibition Focus: The Self Re-Defined, artist Richard Olderman takes viewers on a surprising exploration of the self and nature; a journey of self discovery. Curated by Evanston Art Center Director Michele Rowe-Shields, Focus: The Self Re-Defined, Recent Photographs by Richard Olderman presents 22 of Olderman's manipulated, silver gelatin prints. This handtinted series incorporates a group of early black and white self-portraits taken around 1980 with more recent black and white images from nature and cemeteries. Olderman superimposes the two images and then applies a variety of creative
techniques to the print itself, such as adding color and toner or bleaching, scratching and scraping the print. His work deals with a number of issues such as confrontation of the self, transformation, birth, death, coming and going.

" I have always had a fairly comfortable fascination with cemeteries and death. Death in the sense that it's the end of one thing, but is also the start of something new. With this new series it's like scraping away the layers and something new coming out of the ashes," explains Olderman.

In Olderman's earlier portraits he confronts the camera by directly facing the camera without pretense. This process comes out of a need to document a difficult and unsettled time in his life." In combination with his more recent images, the results are stunning. The handtinting is exquisite, the images mysterious and provocative, " says Rowe-Shields. "Richard's remarkable
photographs express the essence of self-portraiture as self discovery. Through his personal struggle and exploration of the self and nature, he portrays a layered reality evoking a spiritual dimension and dramatically capturing his inner sense of being."

The Obamas by Annie Leibovitz

This portrait of The First Family was taken by Annie Leibovitz on September 1st, sitting in the Green Room of the White House.
It is stunning. There is an article in the upcoming New York Times Magazine, The First Marriage, that is refreshingly honest and candid. Can't believe we are coming up on the one year anniversary of Obama's election... a time that is seared in my memory.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

JR in Kenya ~ Women are Heros

On the plane back from NYC I read about a French-artist JR, who had produced a public art project in an effort to honor the residents of one of the world's largest ghetto's- the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is best known for his technique of photographing inhabitants of a city or other area & pasting the resulting imagery up on grand scale around the community.

He has just completed something similar in Kibera, Kenya. This time, 2000 square meters of rooftops have been covered with photos of the eyes and faces of the women of Kibera. PLEASE click here to see a movie of it and you get the impact of the project. The still photographs below give you an overview but the movie is INCREDIBLE!
With the eyes on the train, the bottom half of the their faces have been pasted on sheets on the slope that leads down from the tracks to the rooftops. With this, their eyes will match their smiles and their faces will be complete whenever the train passes.

The Times online magazine stated in a recent article 'the trade in JR's pictures, created in third world slums and bought by affluent westerners, is reinvested in the slums, this makes him a robin hood figure'.

What a way to transform the world.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

from Chris Jordan

Message from the Gyre

These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

~cj, October 2009


I had the privilege of attending a screening in the HBO NYC screening room this past weekend of the soon to be released blockbuster movie, Precious, thanks to my nephew who is one of the executive producers. You may know already that it has been winning multiple awards in all of the film festivals and is not only backed by Oprah Winfrey but she is going to spend the first week in November discussing it on her show. I had heard it was a great film but I was totally blown away by it. It breaks thru barriers on so many levels and is an amazing artistic feat. The viewer is transformed as is the main character. The film masterfully encompasses the "all of it," embracing the dark AND the light in an uplifting, honest portrayal of a teenager with everything stacked against her. The director's interpretations of the psychological states of dissociation were beyond brilliant. To say that the film is hopeful and compelling is an understatement. It is about the human condition, compassion and love. A MUST SEE. It opens on November 6th.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

on contradictions

"Everything tends to make us believe that there exists a certain point of the mind at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low, cease to be perceived as contraditions."
Andre Breton

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chicago Art Review

This review appeared yesterday on the Chicago Art Review site.

Jane Fulton Alt, After the Storm PHOTOGRAPHY
Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Ave. Galleries
78 E. Washington St.

October 10 - December 27, 2009

With “After the Storm”, Jane Fulton Alt’s dramatic, powerful exhibition recounts the aftermath of hurricane Katrina’s impact upon the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Her 30 photographs and accompanying commentary posted aside capture much of the devastation of the unprecedented disaster. The artist use of light and shadow reflect elegance and grit and draws the viewer into an emotional skirmish of irony and frankness. Now at Chicago’s Cultural Center, the photos recall. The shots are carefully composed. The photography is brutally exact.

“I never went thinking I was going to "seriously" photograph the aftermath of Katrina,” said Alt, also a clinical social worker who traveled to New Orleans via a program, “Look and Leave.” “Up until my trip there, I always shot black and white film, had my own darkroom and never done color. I brought a new digital Canon rebel camera along. Had I thought I was going to photograph, I would have brought other equipment. It wasn't until the 3rd day, when I felt I had reached my end physically and emotionally, that I realized photographing would be helpful to me and the larger community.”

In ‘Blue Cup’, Alt takes the viewer through a dense grey fog, down a street where leaning power poles come through like invading monsters. There is a collapsed structure of brown wood and rusted pipe in a heap, as a thing with wings and shanks stemming from it. Catching the eye is a teal blue paper cup, on its side as if a wounded survivor. The photo appears black and white with tint, yet, “They were all color images. There was just no color in the landscape”, says Alt. “Everything was covered with mud and dust and the air was rancid. Never in my life have I seen such destruction.”

Exploring the inherent strains and duality of roles of social worker/artist during Alt responds, “The stories were too much to contain. I asked my team leader if I could leave the "Look and Leave" site early as I thought I was going to have a "meltdown," she says. “I returned to my room and within an hour, I realized I had to photograph what I was seeing. It was like an epiphany...knowing the work would be strong and seen widely, and titled, "Look and Leave." She adds, “I actually had a change of clothes in my car for my different roles.”

Differences are cutting in ‘Mardi Gras Storage House’, its roof gone, skeletal arches and timber appear to hold up a clear sky. On the floor lay’s a silver ‘Tin man’ character from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ while across the way stands the Scarecrow sans broken neck. The vivid colors of the characters stand in sharp contrast to the rest of the picture.

“Superdome”, holds its breath, a grey, alien structure, a threatening presence at nightmares edge. “This picture was to get the menacing feel into the photograph. I have to say that for the first time in my photographic career,” she recalls. “I knew when photographing that I was 'getting it.' It was like the pictures found me. It felt effortless, right. There was no struggle. My analytic mind took a back seat and I was responding to the landscape.”

These photographs are not entertainment. The artist captures the community in its fear and despair and searches to do so in its optimism and hope.

(Jeffery McNary) Posted October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

more Rilke

"The most divine consolation is without a doubt contained within the human itself. We would not know very well what to do with the consolations of a god. All that is necessary is for our eye to be a trace more seeing, for our ear to be more receptive, for the flavor of a fruit to enter us more completely, for us to be able to tolerate more scent, and, in touching and being touched, to be more present-minded and less oblivious - in order to receive from our most immediate experiences consolations that would be more convincing, more significant and truer than any suffering that can ever unsettle us."

© Jane Fulton Alt 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Doris Salcedo

I was thrilled to be reminded of the haunting work of Doris Salcedo on the first episode of Art 21. I originally saw her installation of Atrabiliarios at the Art Institute of Chicago years ago and have never forgotten it. It was an incredibly potent work. Salcedo is from Columbia and this work addressed the disappeared.

© Doris Salcedo
Atrabilarios [Defiant].
Wall installation with plywood, shoes, animal fibre and surgical thread,
Atrabiliarios (Detail)

Small niches were cut in the wall and covered by translucent windows of animal skin stitched directly into the wall. Inside the spaces were shoes that Salcedo collected from the families of victims of the violence. The skin prevents viewers from seeing the shoes clearly. One can only wonder what happened to the owners of the shoes that were once worn by the victims of Columbia's repressive government. In addition to functioning as portraits of the "disappeared" the works also speak to the grief and uncertainty faced by those who are left behind.

I found this information while doing research on Atrabiliarios...Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) believed that all human knowledge derived from art and that the creative principle that lies within everyone was the source of personal, social and spiritual transformation.

Now that is something to contemplate.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art:21 Season 5

Just a heads looks like it is going to be a wonderful program. It has already aired in NY...but will be on Chanel 11 today at 2pm. You can also watch online here. William Kentridge is an amazing artist and the first episode features him and his work. To read more about him in an earlier post, click here.
© from an animated short by William Kentridge

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Opening ~ After the Storm at the Chicago Cultural Center

To those of you who came out in the rain for the opening, Thank you! I felt so supported!

One of the many sweet moments of the night was when a man came up to me and said he was a formerly from New Orleans and had moved to Chicago five years ago. He kept shaking my hand, saying "thank you" over and over with tears in his eyes...

Thank you to Greg Knight, Lanny Silverman and Greg Lunsford of the Chicago Cultural Center for hosting the work and doing such a great installation....and to Thomas, the guard on duty, who I know blessed the exhibit.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

After the Storm @ The Chicago Cultural Center

The time has finally arrived. Four years ago I went down to New Orleans as a social worker to help out with the relief efforts post Katrina. After a personal meltdown, I decided to photograph what I was seeing, with the hope of helping in a more concrete way by giving others visual access to my experiences. It was the very first time I had worked with a digital camera and the first time I felt the pictures found me. I had a vision for what I needed to do and am happy to report that it is now fully realized. There is an exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center that opened this past weekend. I am thrilled with the way the show, After the Storm, was mounted. The curatorial staff of Gregory Knight, Lanny Silverman and Greg Lunsford were amazing to work with. If you are passing thru Chicago, please stop by to see it. If you know of venues outside of Chicago that might be interested in the exhibition, please let me know.

Jane Fulton Alt © Not As Seen on TV

Jane Fulton Alt © Mardi Gras Warehouse

Jane Fulton Alt © Wedding Portrait

Jane Fulton Alt © The Blue Cup

Jane Fulton Alt © Polaroid

Advanced copies of the book will be for sale at two Chicago book signings, this coming Thursday night at 5:30 at the Chicago Cultural Center and at the Book Stall in Winnetka on October 20th at 7pm. The full shipment of the books will be in the University of Georgia Press warehouse by November 9th, at which time they will be completing orders from the internet sources such as Amazon, and University of Georgia Press. I also have two book signings in New Orleans on December 5th, at Octavia Books and the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery. More info is here.

Jane Fulton Alt © Genesis

Saturday, October 03, 2009

On Becoming 90

My father's 90th birthday is today. He has been an incredible model on how to live life to it's max. He and my mother (who just turned 89) are the most active, interesting and interested people I know. I marvel and their energy and their lust for life.
They love the arts are are constantly attending exhibitions. They went to a Norman Rockwell show this past year. As they were enjoying the works, they came across a piece that was titled Union Station, Chicago, Christmas.....December 23, 1944. My father flipped! They were married that day AND were on route to New York City for their honeymoon via Union Station at the exact time as indicated in the painting. Can you find the man in uniform kissing his bride?

I don't need to say much more. My father wanted that painting...only it was not available. Thanks to the internet, I was able to locate a duplicate print. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!