Poignant Pics no. 4 // Ross Faircloth

Welcome to #4 in our new series Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly impacted their cerebral cortex. Diffusion alum’ Ross Faircloth finds Joel Peter-Witkin, connects him to Baudelaire and reflects on the Sublime.

Penitente, New Mexico by Joel-Peter Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin // Penitente, New Mexico // 1982 // gelatin silver print

…should I be enjoying this, should I even be seeing this?

I have often debated internally what draws one to the work of Joel-Peter Witkin, as I’m sure many before me have as well.  The image above, Penitente, New Mexico, was the first Witkin image I remember seeing. It was presented harmlessly enough, in a slideshow during an undergraduate darkroom class, however, there is only so much ‘harmlessness’ that comes with first witnessing a Witkin image. I was not taken aback or gasping at the sight, as some were compelled to do; I simply took it in and let it wash over my mind. Needless to say, my mind had a few thoughts of it’s own: How could someone make such a beautiful scene out of traditionally taboo objects? What are they trying to say? How much was intentional? How much was real? Why have I never seen this work before? I was assured that what I was seeing was indeed real, and that Witkin worked on film, and that was all I needed.  

The composition of the image was beautiful, strong and stable, but the figures were frail and writhing. The marks along the edges of the frame seemed to seep into physical space, yet they were only present on the film, a psychological manifestation from the subjects per chance. The subject matter was clearly a loaded gun waiting to go off, yet when observing the image as a whole I couldn’t help but connect it with a poet, Charles Baudelaire. Both artists often included the grotesque or anomalies of life within their work as a way to bring down or humble their audience. It was a stiff slap in the face on a bitingly cold day saying “This is life, not always beautiful or perfect but it is only through the pain and torment that we can appreciate the good and therefore the bad is necessary and even beautiful.” The image was full of contradiction and I loved every minute of it, despite an ever-present nagging question; should I be enjoying this, should I even be seeing this? It led me to the idea of the Sublime and began the internal questioning of what makes a photograph transcend the medium, what makes it more than just a recording?

–Ross Faircloth


 

Ross Faircloth is a Fine Art Photographer living and working in Dallas. He graduated in 2012 from Texas Woman’s University with an MFA in Studio Arts with a concentration in photography and in 2009 from the University of Texas at Arlington with a BFA in Photography.  Ross grew up in Kaufman, Tx, a small rural town about 35 miles east of Dallas, he considers this beautiful, wide open and inviting landscape as a major influence in his overall aesthetic and growth as an artist.  He works simultaneously with both traditional and experimental darkroom techniques, and new forms of digital media.  His work focuses on using conventional photographic elements and processes in new and experimental ways, working with only light, photo paper, and photo-chemistry to create his images.  

Ross currently works at Collin College on the Spring Creek campus as the Assistant Coordinator of the photography lab and as an adjunct professor throughout Dallas.  His most recent solo show “Dark Grandeur” was on display at the Lillian Bradshaw Gallery at the Dallas Public Library in August.  His work has been featured multiple times in both print and online publications such as Diffusion, The Hand, LensCulture.com (featured artist), Light Leaked.com, Ticka-Arts and Oranbeg Press.  He was recently awarded the 1st place prize in Photography Re-Imagined V: “The Atist’s Hand” in Scottsdale, Az., juried by Holly Roberts.  

Poignant Pics no. 3 // Rachael Banks

Welcome to #3 in our new series Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly impacted their cerebral cortex. Rachael Banks reflects on dreaming of wild ponies, falling in love, and photographing her muse in the same way (and place) Emmet Gowin had four decades earlier.

Emmet Gowin Edith, Chincoteague Island (Virginia) 1967 Gelatin silver print

Emmet Gowin // Edith // Chincoteague Island (Virginia) // 1967 // Gelatin silver print

Love isn’t something you can always hold or hear but you can see it in Emmet Gowin’s photographs.

When I was a little girl, I spent most of my time fully absorbed by literature. One of my favorite books was a story about the wild ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague Island. I found myself completely transfixed on the idea of such a mythical place that I would frequently visit in my daydreams. At night I dreamed about running with wild ponies.

Later as an adult, I fell in love quickly and unexpectedly. After only a couple weeks of knowing each other, I suggested a road trip. We drove twelve straight hours to the place that as I child I thought was too magical to be real: Chincoteague Island. In an impulsive moment, I discovered the place from my childhood dreams and the feeling of being hopelessly in love.

I have always been interested in the photograph’s ability to communicate what words cannot. For years, I photographed my lover and muse in attempt to turn every memory we shared into a tangible object: a photograph. I have always admired Emmet Gowin’s work and his ability to encapsulate his love for his wife Edith. I was deeply infatuated with the notion of the muse and found that Gowin perfectly showcased the essence of a person in the form of a photograph. Love isn’t something you can always hold or hear but you can see it in Emmet Gowin’s photographs.

Months after my relationship ended, a dear friend gave me a book of Emmet Gowin’s work. As I looked through the pages I came across a photo of Edith at Chincoteague Island. Suddenly, I found myself years back in time to the beach in the middle of the night, watching the dancing silhouettes of wild ponies while sitting next to the person I loved and nothing else mattered. On the island from my childhood dreams, I spent the day with my love and forty-six years earlier, so had Emmet Gowin. The photograph is proof.

–Rachael Banks


Rachael Banks is a Louisville, KY native who is living and working in Dallas, TX. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in photography from Texas Woman’s University and Bachelor of Arts degree in photography and painting from Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY. Her research interests include family dynamics, identity, accessible art, zine culture, and collecting seemingly insignificant items in plastic bags.

Currently, Rachael is working as the Communications Manager for the non-profit organization Crusade for Art and she recently accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor in Photography at Northern Kentucky University that begins in Fall 2016.

Lemniscate of Diffusion | Volume VIII 2016

Lemniscate of Diffusion

Themes: abstract and mise-en-scène

Featured Artists:

Carol Golemboski // Claire Warden // Jessica Somers // Jonah Calinawan // Louviere + Vanessa // Matthew Brandt

Invited Artists:

Adam Neese // Alison Carey // Ben Mittleman // Bob Cornelis // Brenda Biondo // Brett Henrikson // Cody Swanson // Diane Fenster // Heidi Clapp-Temple // James Wigger // Jan Cook // Kim Campbell  // Marcy Palmer // Marisa Redburn // Michael Trupiano // Milisa Taylor-Hicks // Paul Kenny // Philip Augustin // Rachael Banks // Rita Maas // Ross Faircloth // Ross Sonnenberg // Sam Estrella // Saul Robbins // Shawn Saumell // Smith Eliot // Tami Bone // Viki Garcia // Ville Kansanen

Order Now!

 

Poignant Pics no. 2 // K.K. DePaul

Welcome to our second installment of Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, educators, collectors and makers to share a brief essay on a photo that has significantly changed the way they think or look at the world. Poignant Pics no. 2 is written by Diffusion alum and all around talented photo-crafter K.K. DePaul.

La Loteria II by Luis González Palma

The Seduction

I am a firm believer that anything that is worthwhile starts with a seduction.

Ten years ago, as I was deciding whether or not to change careers and embrace a life in photography, I was a guest at a reception for prospective MFA candidates. It was held at the spectacular home of one of the board members and there were amazing photographs on every wall. I turned a corner, and I was rooted to the spot. It was my first encounter with the work of Luis González Palma. And I felt the thunderbolt of love at first sight. I was, quite frankly, smitten.

Until that time, my knowledge and experience was with Street Photography…chasing and capturing a moment. The taking of a photograph.

This work was about crafting an image. Collecting props. Casting actors on a stage to suggest an unspoken story. He uses collage, words, symbols, and oil paint to create spectacularly beautiful images that seduce me with their mysterious gaze.

It’s like Poetry…I can’t really explain why I am drawn in…but I feel it. I keep coming back… like a magnet pulling me…and I continue wanting to know more.

My encounter with this work changed the course of my direction in photography.  I gave myself permission to break rules I had imposed upon myself…and the world opened before my eyes.

— K.K. DePaul


K.K. DePaul is an explorer of secrets, combining and recombining bits and pieces of memory to make sense of her family stories.

“I have always been fascinated by multiple interpretations, double exposures, and the ambiguities that arise depending on which character is telling the story. My process begins with a collection of elements…images…writing. As I move the elements around, a visual narrative begins to take shape, signaling a new understanding of parallel stories. My use of collage indicates a story told in two voices, representing identities that have been torn apart, stripped, reflected upon, and ultimately reconstructed.”

Poignant Pics no. 1 // Frances Jakubek

We’re launching a new series of posts titled Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly impacted their cerebral cortex. Here, we will post the images and the words they want to share about them. A big thank you to Frances Jakubek for setting the bar!

Domino Players, Walls Unit, TDC, 1967 by Danny Lyon

What does one do to pass the time while time is passing without them? Danny Lyon photographed the Texas Department of Corrections in 1967 and unearthed the human element within the institution.

The two men pictured in this photograph are opponents in the current game but suffer a matching consequence and ultimately the same fate. Signs of repetition and redundancy echo as markers of these men’s daily existence. Tallies on the table keep score but also denote the passage of spent time. Ritual and routine become mandatory; life’s pleasures are condensed into allotted leisurely time.  Wearing of the seats shows evidence of hours dedicated to a game while the actual game of life carries on beyond them.

The notion of privacy and freedom is lost from the activity as we notice just a hint of a figure in the bottom left corner. A guard. A barrier. A reminder that these two men are paying a price while playing a game. Our American bald eagle, the symbol of freedom, arises in the shape of the dominos creating an irony between liberty and reality. The eagle beckons up to the camera, Lyon’s perspective dwarfs the noble bird and unhinges the viewer by forcing them to look down at the symbol we are accustomed to looking up at.

We are free until a mistake is made, and even then, the clock keeps ticking.

–Frances Jakubek


 

Frances Jakubek is a lover of and advocate for photography. As an artist and independent curator, she is most interested in the storytelling capabilities of the medium. Jakubek was a recent panelist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowships, judge for the Shoreline Arts Alliance photography exhibition, speaker at the Photographic Society of New England, and guest curator for “The Curated Fridge.” Gaining the bulk of her experience as the Associate Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Massachusetts, she now resides in New York City and has joined the team at Bruce Silverstein Gallery.
Diffusion 2015 Invitational // Full List

Diffusion 2015 Invitational // Full List

Adam Neese
Alison Carey
Ben Mittleman
Bob Cornelis
Brenda Biondo
Brett Henrikson
Carol Golemboski
Claire Warden
Cody Swanson
Diane Fenster
Heidi Clapp-Temple
James Wigger
Jan Cook
Jessica Somers
Kim Campbell
Jonah Calinawan
Louviere + Vanessa
Marcy Palmer
Marisa Redburn
Matthew Brandt
Michael Trupiano
Milisa Taylor-Hicks
Paul Kenny
Philip Augustin
Rachael Banks
Rita Maas
Ross Faircloth
Ross Sonnenberg
Saul Robbins
Shawn Saumell
Smith Eliot
Tami Bone
Viki Garcia
Ville Kansanen

© Matthew Brandt

© Milisa Taylor-Hicks

Jake Shivery Prints for Sale & Book Review by George Slade

Jake Shivery Prints for Sale & Book Review by George Slade

Jake Shivery, Contact

The camera salesman Mr. J. Shivery reveals his meditations on vision and community in this eloquent commingling of first-person text and second-person imagery. Contact, the book’s title, assumes both literal and metaphoric implications. Literal, in the sense of contact sheets: these pages reproduce 8x10 inch negatives, the photographer’s choice medium, at a 1:1 ratio. Metaphoric, in the extraordinary way in which his vision contacts spiritual essence that speaks of both individual and communal truths. Qualities of place and relationship flow between people, photographer, and final image.

To label the work in Contact portraiture is too flat an assessment. One of the photographer’s dreams, recounted in his soul-baring, modestly profound afterword, described a large-format lens that has abandoned precise measurement and quantities in favor of symbolic suggestion. For me, this imagined instrument called to mind the alethiometer of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series—a mechanical instrument that utilizes intuition and insight to construct a truth educed from images. Which seems an apt characterization of the artist Jake Shivery’s oneiric, radiant records of singular individuals, including himself, in his Pacific Northwest realm.

(And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that Daisy, the hobbling black labrador, was in fact Jake’s daemon.)

—George Slade, re:photographica, and executive director, TC Photo, Minneapolis, Minnesota

125$

All images are 8x10 inches. Contact printed by hand in the traditional darkroom of Blue Moon Camera and Machine, all prints are made on Ilford Warm Tone Fibre paper to strict archival specifications, including a light selenium tone. Open edition. Click image to purchase.

125$

All images are 8x10 inches. Contact printed by hand in the traditional darkroom of Blue Moon Camera and Machine, all prints are made on Ilford Warm Tone Fibre paper to strict archival specifications, including a light selenium tone. Open edition. Click image to purchase.

125$

All images are 8x10 inches. Contact printed by hand in the traditional darkroom of Blue Moon Camera and Machine, all prints are made on Ilford Warm Tone Fibre paper to strict archival specifications, including a light selenium tone. Open edition. Click image to purchase.

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