An Exploration of Narrative, History, and Medium
Artworks by Truman Chambers, Paul Verdell, Michelle Whitmer, and Evin Luettke come together to create a dialogue concerning the contemporary artist’s implementation of the photograph. Throughout the exhibition, the vast diversity of lenses through which the emerging artist views the photo as a tool are explored.
The source found photo for the disembodied hands in Ring was entirely anonymous, discovered by Chambers discarded on the side of a road. Wedding, as a portrait, is inherently more intimate. The photograph used for Wedding depicts Chambers’ mother before she was his mother, adding another more complex layer of anonymity to these works, viewed together for the first time. The suggested narrative within each piece had potential for interpretation beyond the photograph, with the aid of charcoal and oil pastels. Two events: An engagement and a wedding—personal expressions of affection. The audience, severed from the events and individuals depicted, is free to appreciate the visible and tactile qualities of the pieces as well as their deconstruction of narrative and symbol.
Color—likely the first element that strikes Verdell’s audience. In this series of portraits, created during his recent Macedonia Institute Residency, Verdell scaled down his work, in an attempt to go “back to basics”. This extensive series of petite works illustrates experimentation with color, line, and composition. Verdell was able to carefully curate his color palette through working with photographs that he sourced from friends, magazines, and other media. “I wanted to highlight color. I wanted people to kind of pop.”
As an artist who is familiar to experimenting with media, Whitmer is well acquainted with drawing and photography. Throughout her varied body of work, light is exposed as her true medium. Whitmer makes her own photographs to use as source material. She is personally invested in her process from the very start. Whitmer uses her skills as a fine artist to exalt the working-class livelihood she is so familiar with, being native to the area. Stationary vehicles, desolate parking lots, roadways that fade to an inky black: These motifs inspire a mystical reverence for the seemingly mundane Midwestern lifestyle.
Luettke uses paint to breathe new life to his old family photos. The family is his own family—or they would be—if he had been born during the time the snapshots were made. This is not his family, but another entirely separate unit. The creation of these paintings establishes a bond between the artist and the pictured family unit that could not conceive of the son and brother creating the portrait. Luettke’s sincere love for the individuals and their time is exemplified by his colorful rendering of their intimate moments with each other.