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Converging Margins

curated by Leah Oates

November 8, 2008 – January 11, 2009

Historically, artists have lived to some degree or another on the margins of society – seen as neither working class nor upper class.

Because of such a fluid identity, artists are able to interact with people and communities from a diverse range of backgrounds. They are often drawn to life on the margins as it represents a distancing from the norm and allows for more freedom of thought and action. By choosing not to belong to any one sector of society and by remaining ‘unclassifiable’ artists can break through existing barriers between often disparate sectors of society.

Converging Margins highlights 11 photographers whose work shows us what it is to be human and how mutable identity is even in a time in which people are becoming more attached to concepts of race, beauty, class, religion, and ethnicity. The photographers featured in Converging Margins have established and maintained long-term relationships with their subjects, and through the act of photographing, they become a fixture of these communities and transcend any perceived barriers by making their art.

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Paul D’Amato happened upon the Mexican neighborhood of Pilson in Chicago in 1988.  Feeling drawn to the energy of the poor and “rough” neighborhood, D’Amato spent the next 15 years returning to photograph the people of Pilson. He began by photographing the notorious gang, “La Raza”, whose trust gained him access to the community at large, inviting D’Amato to weddings, quinceneras and dinner.  He photographed as a member of this community, from the inside looking out.

Juliana Beasleyhas been photographing in the Rockaways region of Queens, New York for several years. Her images are imbued with the mystery and melancholy her subjects exude.  Over the years Beasley has become friends with many of the people she photographs and has come to consider the Rockaways a place full of magic and wonder. Her portraits reveal the raw human energy of challenged people living life fully on the edge of mainstream society.

Artists often move away from the towns or small cities in which they grew up in only to return seeking a sense of connection to family, friends, and places left behind.Richard Gary, Rachael Dunville and Deana Lawson have each returned to photograph people and places from their past in order to capture the essence of the moments and relations that shaped them. They view their hometowns with a removed perspective but with the genuine desire to connect and reexamine the moments and people from an earlier chapter of their life.

Lauren Greenfield’s multi-media project, Thin documents women who are fighting their obsession with making their own bodies painfully and dangerously thin. Not only have these women marginalized and become psychologically detached from their own bodies, but they show the human mind’s ability to marginalize us from ourselves and others. Through her process of filming, interviewing, and photographing her subjects, Greenfield allows us to witness their struggle, understand its complexity, and see the fragility of the human body under self-imposed stress.

The series The Girl of My Dreams began when Stacy Renee Morrison accidentally found a trunk of keepsakes once owned by Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander, a woman born 133 years before Morrison’s own birth. Compelled by the mysterious trunk, Morrison began to research Ostrander’s genealogy.  Shortly thereafter, Ostrander began appearing in Morrison’s dreams. Through her photography, Morrison created a place where the two women could converge. With Morrison serving as Ostrander’s surrogate in the images she effectively connects the living and the dead and brings a long-forgotten woman to life.

Each year, Miles Ladin photographs the fashion shows at Bryant Park during NYC’s Fashion Week as well as the after parties that are attended by the ‘rich and famous’. Ladin has been photographing these events for several years and as a result of his familiar presence, he has become part of this culture. With the intimacy of an insider, Ladin’s images allow us to peak into such exclusive private gatherings and consider the spectacle of public identity.

Lucas Foglia’s photographic portrait of a neighborhood garden in Providence, Rhode Island reveals such endeavors as a place for people who live within a larger community but come from different backgrounds to gather, work side by side, and transcend cultural and societal boundaries. Foglia’s images additionally celebrate the community garden as a meditative space where locals are able to participate in a collective enterprise and create beauty.

Ed Templeton began skateboarding at age thirteen in California. Through skate culture Templeton found a forum to discuss racism and homophobia and in turn has come to serve a pioneering role in making skateboarding a leading cultural force. Skateboarding, now a worldwide culture (and industry) attracts people from all sectors and margins of society. Ed Templeton’s photographs and site-specific installations echo the feeling of a living scrapbook and suggesting skaters as a nomadic collective family.

Stephen Schuster has said that “Nobody knows the city like the graffiti writer”.  His documentation of graffiti writers and their environments reveals their vision of the city and its discarded spaces as the experience of subject and photographer collide in this show.

Collectively, the artists in Converging Margins cross real and perceived boundaries through the process of photographing to show us that life is extraordinary in every way, in every place.

— Leah Oates, Curator, Station Independent Projects

 

Leah Oates is an independent curator and artist who has organized over 30 exhibitions and projects over the past 10 years at venues such as Nurture Art Gallery, Artists’ Space, OIA Gallery, Chashama Gallery, Peer Gallery, and The Kaufmann Arcade Gallery all in NYC. In 1999, Oates served as the in-house curator for Chicago’s Peace Museum where she organized historical exhibitions about the peace movement in the US as well as readings and lectures. Oates currently writes for NY Arts Magazine and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Juliana Beasley 

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Paul D’Amato

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Rachael Dunville

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Lucas Foglia

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Richard Gary

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Lauren Greenfield

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Miles Ladin

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Deana Lawson 

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Stacy Renee Morrison

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Stephen Schuster

"Converging Margins", curated by Leah Oates, Station Independent Projects, November 8, 2008 - January 11, 2009Ed Templeton

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Toni Pepe

Angle of Repose

November 8, 2008 – January 11, 2009

It’s my dream. A world where all would be silent and each thing in its last place, under the last dust.
-Samuel Beckett, Endgame

Absence and presence is a recurring theme within this series, implying that each image works to reference something beyond the frame. Photography best portrays this thematic approach since by nature; photographs possess a fundamental quality of absence. All of the elements within the frame—the props, costumes and gestures prompt the notion and tangibility of loss and memory. If we had never met could I still have a memory of you? Can we make present something that is absent?

A variety of performative devices from theater, cinema, and literature reconstruct visions and moments experienced within the walls of the character’s mind. References to memory are embedded in her gestures and body language. Though the poses are appropriated from family photographs, at the same time they evoke the classical and art historical. Recurring motifs such as dust suggest the past, calling to mind the idea of remains and decay. In addition, the embroidered napkins emphasize the notion of memory, domesticity and the familial. The lines of text along with the truncated narrative approach underscore the ambiguity of memory and the inability to organize it linearly.

– Toni Pepe, 2008

Toni Pepe recently completed an MFA in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007. She received a BA from Michigan State University in 2003. “Angle of Repose” was recently exhibited at the Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, MA in spring 2008. A solo exhibition of her series “Reasonably Poised” was shown at IMG Gallery in Winthrop, Ma in 2006. Toni Pepe’s work has also been included in exhibitions at such venues as the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA; the Griffen Museum in Winchester, MA; Nook in Rochester, NY; Gallery Aferrro in Newark, NJ; Real Art Ways Gallery in Hartford, CT; and mulitple shows at RIT’s SPAS Gallery in Rochester, NY. Pepe currently lives and works in Winthrop, MA.

tonipepe.com

Mickey Smith

 

Collocations

August 30 – October 28, 2008

The exhibition “Collocations” features a selection of works from “Volume”, an ongoing project documenting bound periodicals and professional journals in public libraries. Most of these publications are being replaced by their online counterparts. Several titles photographed in the process of this project have been destroyed. Searching endless rows of these utilitarian texts, I am struck by the physical mass of knowledge and tenuousness of printed works as they fade from public consciousness.

The act of hunting for and photographing these objects is fundamental to my process. I do not touch, light, or manipulate the books and words – preferring to document them as found in the stacks, created by the librarian, and positioned by the last unknown reader.

The irony and graphic quality of repeating titles fascinate and draw, no matter how mundane, from known to obscure, from Vogue to Blood. I focus on simple, provocative titles that transcend the spines on which they appear.

–  Mickey Smith, 2008

Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Mickey Smith earned her BA in Photography from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1994. Her work has been shown in such diverse spaces as Invisible-Exports, New York; Ellen Curlee Gallery, St. Louis, MS; Carlton College Gould Library, Northfield, MN; Open Book Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; and the Post Office and Public Library of Cooperstown, ND.  Her imagery has also exhibited abroad in St. Petersburg and Vyborg, Russia as well as Pingyao, China.  Additionally, Smith has received the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photography as well as grants from Forecast Public Art Affairs and CEC ArtsLink, and has held residencies at the Society for Contemporary Photography, Kansas City, MO and the Oberholtzer Foundation, Mallard Island, MN.  In November 2008 she will have her first solo exhibition in NYC at Invisible-Export Gallery. Smith currently lives and works with her husband in NYC.

mickeysmith.com

The Camera Always Lies

Second Regional Triennial of the Photographic Arts

curated by Beth E. Wilson

June 14 – August 17, 2008

The true modern primitivism is not to regard the image as a real thing; photographic images are hardly that real. Instead, reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras.
–Susan Sontag, On Photography

The Camera Always Lies takes as its starting point a contrary idea: that despite its apparent directness, photography (like all forms of representation) collapses reality in ways that inevitably shape our experience of the world as it is perceived through that medium—and beyond it, as well. Perhaps the verb ‘lies’ is a bit extreme. I will admit to using it in the title of the exhibition as something of a provocation, calling into question what might be considered the assumed role of photography as a producer of objective documents. This is not a question that has only recently arisen with the emergence of the digital format — from its very inception, the camera has functioned to make a picture of the world, which is something very different from the total (re)creation of one. A “mirror with a memory,” the photographic image insinuates itself between us and the place and time in which it was made, a technology (and a displacement) that enables the wide array of strategies displayed by the artists in this show.

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The works gathered for The Camera Always Lies are divided into four categories; Abstraction, The New Romantics, The Anti-Romantics, and The Attractions of Cinema, which are designed to recognize and to advance a conversation between the works featured and the selected artists on themes that reflect various aspects of the larger concept explored in the exhibition. In some cases the same artists and or bodies of work blur the boundaries of these prescribed themes, further emphasizing the elusiveness of established borders and boundaries within contemporary practices. The work in the Abstraction section presses the limits of the medium in departing from the often-assumed literalness of photographic representation, by pursuing seemingly pure, Platonic form. The New Romantics engage projections of desire and fantasy, tapping into the intertwined appeals of history and beauty; the Anti-Romantics expose the flip-side of the coin, puncturing the consumer/ commodity bubble that relies so heavily on photography for its persuasiveness. And finally, the work presented in the Kodak gallery, under the rubric The Attractions of Cinema, addresses the intersections of time, place, and perspective, with works that bear various conceptual relationships to the moving image.

While the exhibition focuses on artists working within the region, it should immediately become clear that there is no longer such a thing as a purely regional set of photographic and/or aesthetic concerns. Given today’s extremely efficient, globalized networks of information and transportation, it would be futile to attempt to identify a particular Hudson Valley aesthetic issue or (in the 19th century sense) a stylistic school within the region. Despite the wide variety of aesthetics and approaches included in the show, however, all of the artists selected for this Triennial are united in the sense that nothing seen here is as it initially appears. By bending perception through the selective deployment of strategies such as framing, focus, and shifts in scale or perspective, the viewer is challenged to make sense of the results. It is my hope that these ‘lies,’ taken together, will help to reveal a larger truth about who and what we are now, in a world that is so fundamentally altered and constructed by the photographic image.

—Beth E. Wilson, Curator

Beth E. Wilson is an art historian, critic, and curator. She teaches art history at SUNY New Paltz including courses on the History of Photography and the History of Film. In 2005-06, Wilson served as interim curator at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz where she organized the exhibition The Material Image: Surface and Substance in Photography. She has been the resident art critic for Chronogram magazine since 1999 and was the curator of the 2007 Kingston Sculpture Biennial.

Joan Barker

Joan Dugdale

Jaanika Peerna

Rob Penner

Sam Sebren

Julianne Swartz

Kathleen Sweeney

Susan Wides

Ion Zupcu

 

Cornelia Hediger

DOPPELGÄNGER

April 12 – June 1, 2008

Fear, hope, joy, despair, and destruction are but some of the emotions and feelings I explore photographically.

Through my series, “Doppelgänger”, I explore an internal dialog and struggle which exists between the conscious and the unconscious. The topics, often complex, are captured in rich and lush colors using flower patterns and polka dots, which allow a certain type of humor to take over.

The images are assemblages, made up of six to nine photographs, allowing me to exaggerate and emphasize certain spatial areas. I am both the photographer and the model, acting out several characters within single set. The characters that represent hope and despair, good and bad, past and present, face each other, watching and wondering if the other is trustworthy. This particular way of photographing allows me to look over my own shoulder and act out internal struggles in the external world.

–  Cornelia Hediger, 2008

Born in Switzerland, Cornelia Hediger lives and works in NYC. She earned both her BFA and MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  Her imagery has been presented in exhibitions at Wallspace Gallery in Seattle, WA; Anita S. Wooten Gallery in Orlando, FL; PS122 Gallery in NYC; the International Center of Photography in NYC; Maryland  Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and the Massachusetts College of Art. In addition Hediger has shown her work abroad at the Gallery Del Mese-Fischer in Switzerland and Limilight9 Gallery in Halifax, Canada.

corneliahediger.com

Jared Handlesman

Shadows

January 13 – March 30, 2008

My photograms and video work document botanical shadow phenomena.

The photograms are made outdoors at night, exposed by flashlight, car headlights and/or moonlight. For example, in my car-headlight exposures I bring a sheet of photo paper to the forest’s edge at a bend in the road where car headlights stray and sweep across the landscape. I wait until a car approaches and hold up the paper to catch the shadows and light as they filter through the woods. Where I stand, the speed of the car, if the car has its “brights” on, and whether the car is traveling the road alone or is one of several in succession, all contribute to the character of the print.

The video work featured in this exhibition suggest positive, animated versions of my photo-paper negatives, however, they actually are the documentation of shadows on an interior wall. In the late afternoon, sunrays pass through the forest in such a way that they enter my studio window and cast a shadow play on an interior wall. I set up a digital video camera capturing the images as they shift across the room. The audio consists of ambient sounds recorded concomitantly by the camera’s internal microphone.

–   Jared Handelsman, 2008

Jared Handelsman resides in Catskill, NY.  He earned his MFA from Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University and his BA from Vassar College.  His work has been included in numerous exhibitions including at the Kentler International Drawing Space in Brooklyn, NY; the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, NY; and the School House Center’s Driskel Gallery in Provincetown, MA; and Art Awareness in Lexington, NY.  His work is included in the collection of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, the Kanter Fitzgerald collection in New York City as well as private collections.

Jared has participated in residencies at C- Scape Dune Shack, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony for the Arts, and Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.  Awards include a New York Foundation for the Arts RCCA Special Opportunity Stipend.  Additionally his work has been published in the Cape Cod Times, Princeton Architectural Press, the Woodstock Times and was included in the Center for Photography at Woodstock’s publication Photography Quarterly as part of CPW’s inaugural Triennial of the Photographic Arts in 2005.

jaredhandelsman.com