Selections from the Permanent Print Collection



In harmony with the Center for Photography at Woodstock’s (CPW) mission, to support artists working in photography and related media and engage audiences through opportunities in which creation, discovery, and learning are made possible, CPW maintains and builds a permanent print collection.

The focus of the collection is contemporary voices in photography and related media that CPW has supported, collaborated, and worked with. In recent years the collection has grown to include historic works spanning the late 1800s to modern times so as to increase access and understanding by audiences in our region.

Through the generous gifts of artists and individual donors the collection has grown to include work by: Shelby Lee Adams, Ruth Bernhard, Albert Chong, Fred Cray, Jed Devine, James Fee, Larry Fink, Charles Gatewood, Graciela Iturbide, Kenro Izu, Christopher James, Antonin Kratochvil, Nina Kuo, Elliott Landy, Mary Ellen Mark, Sheila Metzner, Andrea Modica, Bill Owens, Gilles Peress, Sylvia Plachy, Lilo Raymond, Eugene Richards, Stephen Shore, Lorna Simpson, Carlos Somonte, William Wegman, among others. In addition, CPW maintains a unique holding of prints by Woodstock photographers such as Manual Komroff, and the

Gaede/Stiebel Archive of images and audiotapes of the Woodstock Maverick Festivals. CPW’s collection is housed in, archived, and cared for by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, where it has been held on extended loan since 1996. Today, CPW’s collection features over 1,750 contemporary photographs. This exhibition provides a glimpse into how CPW’s collection has grown since it was established in 1980. The main avenues through which it has grown being our Artist-in-Residence program, Photography Now exhibition acquisition prize, individual donations and works donated from previous exhibitions.


Marcellus Shale Documentary Project


Curated by Laura Domencic

June 29  – August 18, 2013

Press release →

The six photographers of the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project have taken on the responsibility of telling, in the best traditions of social and environmental documentary, the complex story of Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

For the best part of a year, they have traveled across the Commonwealth, meeting people and listening to and recording their stories. They have reached out to farmers, homeowners, and tenants; medical practitioners, engineers, and legal professionals; casual protesters and full-blown activists; to people who feel they have benefited from gas drilling, and to those who feel they have been victimized; to people whose lives have been forever changed, for better and for worse. Each member of the team has brought a different aesthetic, and has chosen a different angle from which to view the subject. They have identified locations that range from intensively drilled to the margins of the gas fields. Together, they offer a compelling narrative that represents, we believe, an honest appraisal of how the arrival of Marcellus Shale drilling has affected communities around the Commonwealth. Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania has proven itself a deeply divisive phenomenon. Politically and socially, lines have been drawn, between friends and neighbors—sometimes right down the middle of the kitchen table. You are, it seems, either for or against it. But, in clearing away some of the  misinformation from both sides of the debate, the project aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding Marcellus Gas drilling, and at the same time, gives notice to those who claim that this is a process that brings with it no peril.

To learn more about the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project and view more photos by the artists involved, visit

This project would not have been possible were it not for the significant financial and moral support of the following: The Sprout Fund, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Josh Whetzel, Nancy Bernstein, and Cathy Raphael.

"Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" curated by Laura Domencic, June 29 - August 18, 2013Noah Addis

"Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" curated by Laura Domencic, June 29 - August 18, 2013Nina Berman

"Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" curated by Laura Domencic, June 29 - August 18, 2013Brian Cohen

"Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" curated by Laura Domencic, June 29 - August 18, 2013Scott Goldsmith

"Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" curated by Laura Domencic, June 29 - August 18, 2013Lynn Johnson

"Marcellus Shale Documentary Project" curated by Laura Domencic, June 29 - August 18, 2013Martha Rial

PR: Photography Now 2004

Press Release

Peter Tytla, "Last Chance Mobile" (detail), 2003, photographic collage, 20x16.

Peter Tytla, “Last Chance Mobile” (detail), 2003, photographic collage, 20×16.

Photography Now 2004

Selections by Ariel Meyerowitz, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, NYC

Opening reception: February 7, 2004, from 5-7pm

Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12-5pm and by appointment

Artists: Catherine Day (VA), Jelisa Peterson (UT), Peter Tytla (CT), Nate Larson (IL), Art Murphy (NYC), Liz Wolfe (Ontario), Doris Mitsch (CA), Lewis Silverman (NYC) / CPW’s annual juried exhibition presents the newest voices in photography spanning from across the country and Canada! Out of over 250 photographers, juror, Ariel Meyerowitz selected the eight featured photographers whose work crosses boundaries, charts new territory, and exemplifies what is new and now in photography in 2004!

Jeff Jacobson


April 13 – June 16, 2013

A few days before Christmas, 2004, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Some present.

After each chemotherapy session I retreated to our home in the Catskills to recuperate. I began photographing around the house as I was too sick to go anywhere else. As my health returned, I began traveling and photographing across America again.

Shortly thereafter, Kodak discontinued production of Kodachrome. I loved Kodachrome. It had helped shape my photographic vision. I filled my refrigerator and wine cooler with the stuff and kept shooting. A few days before Christmas, 2010, I exposed my last roll.

Jeff Jacobson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1946. His imagery has pushed at the edges of the photographic document, regarding the poetic, experimental, and subjective elements of the world around him. With photographs uniquely defined by his use of strobes, long exposure, and the color inherent in Kodachrome, Jacobson relays interpretations of people and landscapes in loose narratives which emphasize emotional content over informational context and atmospheric mood over cohesive subject.

An accomplished photojournalist who prior to becoming a photographer was a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, Jacobson has been a member of such illustrious groups as the Magnum Photo Agency, Archive Pictures, and Redux Pictures. In addition to The Last Roll (Daylight 2013), he has published two previous books, My Fellow Americans, (University of New Mexico Press, 1991) and Melting Point (Nazraeli Press, 2006). His work is in the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Houston Museum of Fine Art, among others. His work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography and the High Museum of Art, as well as at venues abroad. He has taught workshops internationally as is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Adie Russell


January 12 – March 31, 2013

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Made In Woodstock VI

October 27 – December 30, 2012

Press Release →

Made in Woodstock VI marks the sixth installment of CPW’s exhibition series featuring work created by participants of WOODSTOCK A-I-R, CPW’s workspace residency program for artists of color working in the photographic arts.

Established in 1999, WOODSTOCK A-I-R provides participants with time, facilities, space, and the critical and technical support necessary to move forward. The program encourages the pursuit of creative risk-taking in an inspiring and supportive environment where, working without distraction, photographic artists can focus intensely on their own work, continue works in progress, layout their goals for the future and break new creative ground. With quiet and solitude yet enlivened by a community of fellow artists, WOODSTOCK A-I-R participants work in the idyllic environment of Woodstock – a gathering place renowned for its vibrant cultural history.

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Being close to the creative process and integral to the production of new work is, for CPW, at the core of our mission to support emerging and groundbreaking artistic voices. What transpires over the course of a residency can vary greatly from artist to artist and is continuously affected by concept, process, goals, and the fresh realizations made while here.

Representing the broad range of photographic practices and interest that WOODSTOCK A-I-R helps realize, the 15 artists featured in Made in Woodstock VI whose residencies took place in 2010 and 2011 engage in an inspired and deeply self-aware dialogue on landscape, identity, performance, representational concerns, aesthetic diction, and more.

With the mutable nature of each artist’s work in mind as well as their intensely diverse and dynamic interests, the following categories can provide an initial guide to understanding the multiple themes threading together the work in the show. However, it is by no means an exhaustive framework for understanding each image-maker’s own particular story and voice.

The Hudson Valley has been a source of inspiration for artists throughout history, whether they have been painters of the Hudson River School such as Thomas Cole or residents of the Byrdcliffe Colony working across the visual and performing arts alongside a community of fellow artists.

Each of the residents included in Interpreting Landscape arrived in Woodstock with the intention of making work impacted by their surroundings. For them, the question of “Why Here?” is ever-present, whether it reveals in the lushness of the natural world, functions as a psychological motif, or is used in contrast with dissimilar environments and ideas of home.

Through the integration of still photography and video that manipulates time, meditation, and perception, the work of Grace Kim (Brooklyn, NY and Berlin, Germany) is meant to seduce and hypnotize the viewer. With footage sourced from such disparate settings as the Grand Central terminal, and late-night drives on local roads here in the Catskills, Kim’s films give form to otherwise intangible experiences. Similarly, Jeannette Rodriguez-Pineda (Queens, NY) engages with her direct surroundings, gathering moss and twigs that are depicted in her photographs to distill personal moments, impressions, and symbols of the human and natural world into tactile and sensory descriptive works.

Originally from Ethiopia, Eyakem Gulilat‘s (Norman, OK) work deals with questions of identity and home. His process involves inviting his American subjects to be his collaborators in a representational trade-off, as he photographs them wearing traditional Ethiopian clothing and they photograph him in turn. In the resulting prints Gulilat and his numerous subjects are separated only by the shared environments they both inhabit.

Jacolby Satterwhite‘s (Brooklyn, NY) studio practice involves photography, performance, 3D animation, and sketches created by his mother in her battle with schizophrenia. Among other themes, which are discussed below, his films contrast an idyllic nature and a hard urban, virtual world that the artist-as-character navigates and performs within.

CPW supports artists making photo-based works, and recent years have seen a growth in artists employing photo-sculpture, mixed media, video, animation, and artist’s books. Equally as exciting as witnessing the successful union of multiple processes is the invigorating dialogue that emerges as artists make conceptual choices that underpin the messages in their work.

Jacolby Satterwhite is interested in using multiple media to conflate and contest established narratives. His source material, whether it be autobiographical (drawings by his schizophrenic mother), performative (ritualized and contemporary dance), or environmental (the landscape of Woodstock or computer-generated virtual realms) all come together to give form to a surreal fantasy world in which the artist, as a major player acting out scenes of love, lust, and heroism, can examine insider/outsider art practices, queer phenomenology, and the inheritance of a studio practice.

Both Lourdes Correa-Carlo (Houston, TX) and Yamini Nayar (Brooklyn, NY) combine sculpture and photography in their practice, though each with very different outcomes. Correa-Carlo’s weighty and unyielding pieces assert themselves physically in the space and sometimes develop into environmental artworks that change the way the viewer navigates the room. Her pieces evoke the containment and constraint of buildings ranging from lean-tos to skyscrapers and probe the social and industrial effects of urban planning and the built landscape. In the spirit of a Tibetan mandala, Nayar constructs invented scenes on tabletops, documents them with a camera, and discards the materials after the photograph is made. Within the frame, there is no referent to perspective, scale, or depth, such that the sculpture depicted is abstracted from the construction of its meaning.

The book form is an apt vehicle for breaking apart languages both visual and text-based. Nikita Gale’s (Atlanta, GA) project and artist book entitled 1961 revisits and re-contextualizes a volatile period of U.S. history. Her work juxtaposes historical documents including letters exchanged between a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Malcolm X, found family slides from the Civil Rights era, and mug shots of Freedom Riders. The content of these materials is physically cut apart and collaged together such that the original context is not always apparent, though remains oddly tense and subversive. Likewise, in navigating the relationship with her younger partner, Moro, Pixy Liao (Brooklyn, NY) has invented a visual and textual manual for their own coded language entitled PIMO Dictionary that is at once playful and mischievous. The book is part of a larger investigation of the exchange of power between men and women, as well as across cultures (Pixy is Chinese while Moro is Japanese), and reflects the charmingly stilted flow of communication between humans as well as our never-ending quest to create meaningful relationships with one another.

All the world is as they say, a stage and the camera has been a privileged witness. For many artists working today, the single neutral frame of a photograph can serve as a provocative realm within which one can contain gesture, sequence, and narrative. Yet these images are not meant to be experienced as documentation. Rather they are specific to being performed for only the camera, not before a live audience, and experienced within the context and language of the photographs.

A traditional though no less innovative definition of the artist as performer is clearly represented in the work of Jacolby Satterwhite whose videos incorporate ritualistic and contemporary dance, which he performs in both real and virtual environments along with 3D animation and appropriated iconography. In his project Glasco Turnpike Paul Mpagi Sepuya performs a compounding series of gestures before the camera using in some cases his own body. Continuously enfolding in actions into each new image, he lets the resulting photograph double in on its previous incarnations, thus raising questions surrounding the relations and meaning we have to the photographic object. Gina Osterloh‘s (Los Angeles, CA) photographs serve as record to her explorations in which she traces gesture and movement within temporary constructed spaces. The resulting images serve as the sole record of her research ñ a map of her visual choreography.

In Tommy Kha‘s (Memphis, TN) series American Knees, the photographer revisits the yellowface performances of Caucasian actors during the early/mid 20th Century in Hollywood. By performing what are established stereotypes, Kha creates a doubling within the still frame that brings forth authenticity and falsehood at the same time. His performance fills the borders of the image with qualified sense of hesitancy and disbelief. The deconstruction of preconceived notions and stereotypes are also explored in Eyakem Gulilat’s work. His triptychs serve as evidence of a performative exchange, a conscious exploration of visualizing the other by swapping roles and emotive gazes upon a shared stage.

Performance as a mechanism for the negation of ideas and a process for inquiry reverberates through the works of Pixy Liao whose still images document performed gestures and role-playing between her and her partner Moro as articulations of their real-world dynamic.

Standing apart from the other artists outlined here is Deana Lawson (Brooklyn, NY) whose ongoing photographic exploration involves engaging her subjects as performers before the camera’s lens. Recognizing photography’s ability to turn its subjects into characters, archetypes, and (dangerously so) stereotypes, Lawson focuses on the body as a vessel for meaning and assumption with its capacity to contain and perform ethnic, racial, socio-economic, and engendered identity.

The photograph, or more accurately the image’s ability to capture and define realities is more eminently clear than ever before. Whether unveiling a sub-culture or a under-recognized community or utilizing imaging tools to articulate what is either invisible to the naked eye or only visible in the imagination, photography’s ability to share realities beyond our own has never been clearer.

Additionally the ever-increasing prevalence of images throughout our daily lives has granted them a greater role in our understanding and comprehension of the worlds we live in and those that we don’t. As much as photography holds the power to reveal the unseen, it holds the ability to elevate and influence our sense of and expectations for reality. The resulting impact is often a desire to match more the image-inspired realm than the realm we exist in.

The definitions of artificiality and realness are clearly blurred in the works of Gerard Gaskin and Rebecca Martinez. In his ongoing documentation of the world of House Ballroom, Gerard Gaskin (Queens, NY) offers us a glimpse into the ongoing 50 year old tradition amongst members of the African American and Latino/a queer community who have created and maintain an idealized realm of community, family and identity that speaks to their true sense of self and their aspirations include extreme measures to achieve their realness. Rebecca Martinez‘s (San Francisco, CA) series preTenders reveals the subculture of individuals who own and/or make highly detailed and realistic dolls of infants. While the babies they hold, burp, put to bed, and play with, are undeniably fake, the emotions they elicit from their owners and the love and care that is bestowed upon them are no less real.

Sofia Silva (Baltimore, MD) examines the suffocating influence of commercial imagery that influences our desires and expectations relating to ideal body types and romantic relations. Silva zeros in on print media, which has allowed for a warped depiction via imaging editing tools targeted particularly at women. In fracturing and rephotographing commercial imagery and its hyper-real depictions, Silva’s approach belies the printing process and elevates its constructed nature, thus decoding representations of corrupted feminine ideals.

Collectively, CPW’s artists-in-residence build upon existing genres while injecting their own personal inquiries and perspectives. Made in Woodstock VI champions these 15 talented artists-of-color and provides a forum for a visual engagement with a wide yet interconnected range of photographic methods, interests, and subjects explored. Together, they celebrate and enrich Woodstock’s historic role as a home, community, and source of inspiration for generations of artists – past, present, and future.

– Ariel Shanberg and Akemi Hiatt, November 2012

Ariel Shanberg has served as the Executive Director of CPW since 2003. Akemi Hiatt worked as the Center’s Program Associate from 2000 to 2007.



"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Lourdes Correa-Carlo

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Nikita Gale

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Gerard Gaskin

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Eyakem Gulilat

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Tommy Kha

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Grace Kim

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Deana Lawson

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Pixy Liao

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Rebecca Martinez

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Yamini Nayar

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Gina Osterloh

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Jeannette Rodriguez-Pineda

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Jacolby Satterwhite

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Paul Mpagi Sepuya

"Made In Woodstock VI" October 27 - December 30, 2012Sofia Silva


Yva Momatiuk & John Eastcott


September 8 – October 14, 2012

We have been photographing clouds for years.

As long as we can remember, we watched them form and dissipate
glow with a multitude of hues and roll heavy with storms
move with the wind and stand still for hours.
We felt the energy of these vast cloudscapes
towering cumulus formations, iridescent waves of lenticular clouds
and feathery cirrus fans.

The sky is a wilderness, a celestial refuge.
The clouds we observe are volatile and ever changing
visible to us but out of reach.
We cannot harness, own, or develop them.
They retain the clarity of their structure of fine water droplets
and crystalline ice particles suspended in the atmosphere
at altitudes reaching up to several miles.
They create entire skyscapes, half of the landscape we see
and challenge us to look up and watch them unfold.

To make our images, we work in open spaces filled with weather.
And while we photograph the clouds moving above grasslands and mountains
ice fields and canyons, forests and deserts,
we experience the weather which creates them.
We are buffeted by wind and get chilled to the bone
swelter in heat and hunker in heavy rain
feeling the next-to-the skin sense of being there.
This part of the process is what makes it real for us:
our physical presence in nature and the sense of being fully alive.

Our process leads us to fundamental questions about visual experience
and perception of what we see.
How do we view a scene while looking at it?
How do we remember it — for days or years — after we leave?
How do our memories reflect images
taken at the time when we saw the scene?
And how can the photographic medium be used to encompass
and communicate what we see — the entire half dome
of the cloudscape, or its most exquisite fragment —
and yet stay in the realm of a still photograph?

To answer these questions, we use various photographic techniques.
We explore the clouds with long telephoto lenses
and with extreme wide angle ones.
We create images showing the moment in time
as well as the transition in the constantly changing sky.
Like chapters of a book, they follow a story, a time line, a movement.

We use our medium to explore and expand the limits of our perception
and encourage the viewer to pause and focus momentarily
on one cloudscape
before moving on and taking in another.
We often show no land, allowing the clouds to float freely as they do
unanchored, ephemeral and fleeting.

– Yva Momatiuk & John Eastcott, 2012

Yva Momatiuk and John Eastcott are internationally acclaimed photographers of nature. Nomadic for years, they settled in the Catskills in 1979 but continue to explore the rhythm, the light and the essence of remote and mysterious wild places.

A New Zealander, Eastcott published his first book of photographs at 17, earned a degree in photography in London, and met Yva while hitchhiking near the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Together, they took off for the North, fell in with Dogrib and Slavey fishermen catching whitefish on Great Slave Lake, and published their first images under shared photographic credits.

Later Momatiuk and Eastcott proposed a story idea to National Geographic and spent five months in the Canadian Arctic with a group of Inuit hunters. Soon they were authoring magazine stories and pictorials for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Audubon, BBC Wildlife, Stern, The Observer, and Nature Canada. Yva and John, married by then, became a couple of roaming “professional bums”, to use their words, following their curiosity and desire to see, feel, and learn.

They have traveled and photographed in New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, Canada, Afghanistan, Chile, and Argentina. They followed the mustangs of the American West and created a book of images and a Smithsonian cover story. They spent many seasons in Alaska, the American Southwest, and river swamps of the South. They returned to the Canadian Arctic, explored pampas of Patagonia, the outback of Australia, the savannah of Africa, and the Pribilof Archipelago in the Bering Sea.

Momatiuk and Eastcott have published four books, High Country (1980), Mustang (1996), This Marvellous Terrible Place: Images of Newfoundland and Labrador (1998) which also became a theatrical publication, and In a Sea of Wind: Images of the Prairies (1991), as well as two children’s books, Face to Face with Wild Horses and Face to Face with Penguins, both published in 2009 by the National Geographic Society.

They are recipients of awards from the National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year, BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature’s Best and National Wildlife magazine competitions, and the annual award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation for excellence in still photography dedicated to environmental issues. Their images were represented in several National Geographic shows in Washington, DC, and in BBC exhibits in Natural History Museum in London, England.

Surface Tension

curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt

May 5 – July 1, 2012

Press Release →
As various techniques and processes have been freed within the medium of photography from the responsibility of “depicting images” and “telling stories”, not unlike the revolution that painting experienced over a century ago, photographers are increasingly exploring the ontology of various image-making processes and mining a deeper understanding of our relationship to the medium and its nature as an object.

Though the medium of photography has long been host to pluralities as all art forms do, one can increasingly observe a recent incarnation of the form that self-reflexively engages the process and production of image-making. In the spirit of the quality of surface tension found within the natural world, this exhibition features photo-based works by 11 artists who establish new languages within the medium wherein our notions of the “photographic” are both challenged and expanded.

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Our point of contact with photography today includes news media channels, photo albums, Facebook, Flickr, Google, and advertising. We experience those images on screens of all sizes, both backlit and projected, plasma, and LED, matte, and glossy. The emotional responses that pictorial photographs trigger can include wonder, horror, sadness, joy, and so many more. Released of the medium’s afore mentioned historic obligations the works assembled in Surface Tension invite viewers to consider the tactile qualities of a photograph and the tension of the physical and/or psychological response they elicit. What happens when photography’s responsibility to tell a story or capture a moment at an event is given up and one instead considers a photograph for its formal and aesthetic values? Often, we may be frustrated by the featured works’ reluctance to share information. Why do they insist on remaining elusive and avoid the appearance of a narrative even when embarking on one, preferring instead that we embrace their own coded language?

We expect from photographs the communication of a particular event, person, or moment in time and yet none of the images on view here appear to do that. Marisa Baumgartner, Klea McKenna, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Matthew Brandt, Joseph Heidecker, Aspen Mays, Alison Rossiter, and Christopher Colville, evince an interest in the photograph as an object. In these artists’ hands, the photographic print becomes conflated with its subject and can be seen as a fetishized object made dear by the original circumstances of its creation.

These artists move away from the onus of narrative and revert to the handmade, unique, spontaneous image which photography initially seemed so poised against. Through the reorganization of prints, the use of Photoshop, sunlight, lakewater, bodily fluids, a hole puncher, photographic developer, gunpowder, beads, string, and pins, they confront the notion of the supposed “lasting image”, instead leaving records of their own removal or manipulation in surprising and unpredictable ways.

Baumgartner’s vinyl wall piece, along with McKenna’s folded airplanes and Sepuya’s transplanted studio space, each in their own way, lets the photographic quality of the print be subsumed within the installation itself and enhanced by its site-specific nature, forcing the viewer to engage in unexpected ways with the imagery on view.

McKenna folded paper airplanes from chromogenic paper and exposed them to the sun at former WWII anti-aircraft lookout posts over the period of one day, from dawn until dusk. As camera-less photographs exposed directly by the sunlight, the specific conditions of these images can never be replicated, contesting our expectations of a machine-generated replica from a cameras digital sensor of a film negative. 

By using the studio as the site of creation for his current work, Sepuya’s process involves constant printing, editing, re-appropriation and recreation. He will move a referent from one piece and incorporates it into another, and as a result this shifting subject-object dynamic points to his interest in using photography as a tool to collect photographs and to explore the relationship to and among art objects. 

So too does Brandt fold the physicality of his subjects in with the final product – whether by utilizing the salt from a person’s bodily fluids to instigate a chemical reaction for the photograph to emerge or by allowing the lake water depicted in his images to physically degrade the print.

Akin to the seemingly perverse action of intentionally destroying a photograph are Heidecker’s piercings of found portraits with needle and thread. Sourcing found images and commonly discarded materials, he creates masks for these strangers, the faces and identities of whom will remain unknown.

For Mays who nearly obliterates the entire photograph with a hole puncher, the photographic print represents a complex terrain of knowledge and questions. In her approach making sense of the image supersedes knowing what is in the image. Subsequently her gestures connect the invisible space between information and understanding.

Creation Myth

At its birth, photography was an explosive unstable medium. Like a star going super nova, the photograph in its earliest days was momentarily here and then it was gone. With William Henry Fox Talbot’s efforts, the process of “fixing” a photograph was made possible and its role as a document of record, a record of fact, was confirmed. Today some 170 years later, through the employment of chance, instability, and visual tension, we find in the works of Christopher Colville, Alison Rossiter, Matthew Brandt, and Klea McKenna, a reinvigoration of photography’s earliest and now obsolete processes and its defining element – the light sensitive emulsive surface.

Colville’s phosphoric illuminations on gelatin silver paper and Rossiter’s elegiac pools and pours on expired gelatin silver papers often decades old, bringing forth opposing sensibilities of the light sensitive plane; an opposing pairing of slippery (Rossiter) and abrasive textures (Colville). As with Action Painting so exemplified by the likes of Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler, each work resides as a minute experiment and an unveiled universe all at once.

The subjectification of the subject of their photographs is mined by both Brandt and McKenna who obliterate any trace of their respective pictorial setting while simultaneously embedding it into the photographic surface. For Brandt it is a biological intersection while McKenna’s exploration uses the contextualization of place in her photographic process.

In looking inward at the originating gestures of their process, they blend scientific method with artistic practice and evoke an enthusiasm that has long been dormant.

There Is Nothing Here To Look At: Flatness, Illusionary Depth, and Deceptive Descriptions

In encountering the works of Brea Souders, Megan Flaherty, Mark Lyon, and Marisa Baumgartner one experiences a psychological and visual tension rather than a tactile or physical reaction directly evoked by other artists in the exhibition. As collapsed documents that reveal neither depth nor context, they refuse to allow themselves to dwell within the realm of pictorial narrative.

Flaherty trains her eye and camera on the flatness of work surfaces used by art students. The resulting images simultaneously highlight the success and the failure of the documentary photograph. Through the process of re-photographing photographs, Lyon creates seemingly straight forward images of the photographic wallpaper used in clinical environments which emphasize the two-dimensional nature of their subjects and echo the seductive illusion that the wallpaper is meant to simulate.

Using fabric, mirrors, magazine cutouts, and fragmented representations of her own body, Souders composes surreal and dreamlike scenes which oscillate between flatness and illusionary depth. In her efforts to establish a legitimate connection with her personal ancestry, she both utilizes and contradicts the photographs traditional role in preserving memory and connecting lineage. The result is a seductive, yet unyielding surface.

Similarly unyielding in its structure, Baumgartner’s vinyl wall piece interrupts a view onto a courtyard (raising the question of what is the photographer’s vantage point – are we seeing from the inside or the outside?) with wide bands of deleted content, forcing our mind to fill in the blanks. As wall and image fuse, the resulting liminal space serves as a mirror, a window, and a void.

By subverting conventional (cultural) expectations of the photographic medium via gestures of abstraction, deconstruction, and manipulation by the artists’ hand, the print as a three dimensional object is as much at play as the artists’ methodology in embracing photography’s transmutable nature. Through the artists’ explorations featured in Surface Tension, we are witness to the establishment of an increasingly flexible visual language that would not have been possible prior to the advent of Digital Photography. In that their work has allowed for a renewed investigation of aesthetic diction throughout the medium, can this work be seen as an invitation to embrace a wider understanding of visual literacy? If the artists in Surface Tension are any indication of the direction that the medium is heading in, can we imagine what new images will be taken, but also conceptualized, erased, constructed, altered, soaked, combusted, lit, pierced, or layered? And if so, what does that say about what our expectations of a photograph could and should become?

– Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 2012

Ariel Shanberg has served as the Executive Director of CPW since 2003. Akemi Hiatt worked as the Center’s Program Associate from 2009 to 2013.


"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Marisa Baumgartner

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Matthew Brandt

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Christopher Colville

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Megan Flaherty

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Joseph Heidecker

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Mark Lyon

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Aspen Mays

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Klea McKenna

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Alison Rossiter

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Paul Mpagi Sepuya

"Surface Tension", curated by Ariel Shanberg & Akemi Hiatt, May 5 - July 1, 2012Brea Souders



PR: Photography Now 2012

Press Release

Photography Now 2012

Photography Now 2012

Opening reception: March 10, 2012, from 5-7pm

Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12-5pm and by appointment

The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) is pleased to announce Photography Now 2012, juried by Natasha Egan, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago.

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