Now & Then, Still & Again
Photographs by Jim Schlessinger
Exhibition Dates: August 5 – 28, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, Aug. 5th – 5:30 to 8:30pm
From the Artist:
I have been a fine art photographer for most of a lifetime. During the 1960s I began studying photography at Carnegie-Mellon University, and by the mid-1970s, as a builder, instructor and co-owner of a then well-known fine art photography center, I had worked with a wide variety of teachers and practitioners in the field, among them Paul Caponigro, Robert Frank, Ralph Gibson, Lisette Model, Aaron Siskind, Fred Sommer, George Tice and Minor White. I later taught at an alternative high school, photographed museum collections, made portraits, and manufactured two custom cameras known as the Ugly Rumor and the Royal 220. During the last fifteen years, I transitioned from a purely silver to a mostly digital workflow to take advantage of computer technologies and pigmented inks.
Making art has long since become second nature to me: it’s as natural as breathing. My work is a visual diary, not of where I’ve been, but of what I’ve been thinking. Reflections considered…metaphors evoked. The recognition of a photograph waiting to be made can seem something like déjà vu, when form and content conspire to speak to something partially buried in my subconscious, and all the more meaningful to me. Through my work I’m trying to be a better, more avid observer … of the world and of myself and how the two interact. My images are about illusion and allusion, meditation, and, sometimes, the magic I’ve found along the way. I am intrigued with, and often photograph, the sensation of abstraction; with how conventionally perceived ‘reality’ sometimes progresses or shatters, giving way to more essential forms. In the ‘forest’ I’ve always found that I am as interested in the space between the trees as I am in the trees themselves.
For me, the endeavor is primarily about perception – what it is that we bring to, and take from, the act of seeing – and the processes that I use are a means to that end. I combine conventional techniques of traditional photography with digital printmaking technologies to make giclée prints. I strive to achieve similar effects to those that can be attained in a traditional darkroom, and am attracted to this approach because it has a built-in ‘reality check’ which encourages visual awareness: Unlike what happens with painting, photographic negatives (and RAW files) can be seen as the base-line for making recordings of ‘real world’ experiences in that they render thin slices of verifiable time-space. For me, this aspect of photography, in which the process itself provides a positive link between the experience and the final product, is what makes the medium a distinctively evocative art form. It is in this sense that photography has a unique capacity to inform visual awareness.
Koyaanisqatsi (in Hopi, literally Crazy Life, Life Out of Balance, or A State of Life That Calls for Another Way of Living) seems the hallmark of our culture. I’m trying to balance what I think with what I feel. My photographs are meant to be lived with – and to help quiet the wearying clamor of our crazy world.
Selection of Images
All Images & Text © Jim Schlessinger