October 15, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Fine Arts Gallery Presents ‘Just Suppose’

VALDOSTA — In conjunction with the Georgia Art Education Association’s Fall 2012 Conference, hosted by the Valdosta State University Department of Art Nov. 1-4, the Fine Arts Gallery will host an exhibit featuring the work of a husband and wife team of artists from Gainesville, Fla.

Julie Bowland, art professor and gallery director, noted that Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann will be the keynote speakers at the conference, which will bring a host of art educators throughout Georgia to the campus. Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 17, the university community, as well as the general public, are invited to view an exhibit of the duo’s work — collectively titled “Just Suppose” and featuring her digital art and his silver gelatin prints.

Uelsmann and Taylor have been described as “two true masters of their craft.”

Born in Detroit, Mich., in June of 1934, Uelsmann has been making art for over 50 years and has been extremely influential in shaping modern photography, Bowland shared. He is a forerunner of multi-image photomontage, which is the process of combining many images into one evocative, surreal image using traditional black and white darkroom processing with multiple negatives and enlargers. 

“You might say he was doing Photoshop before Photoshop existed,” she added. “Far from being threatened by the programs, such as Photoshop, he feels the digital revolution has actually broadened his audience. However, for him, ‘the alchemy of the photographic process’ is unequivocally connection to his creative vision.”

Uelsmann graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1957 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Three years later, he graduated from Indiana University with a Master of Science and Master of Fine Arts. He started teaching photography at the University of Florida in 1960 and became a graduate research professor of art at the university in 1974. He retired in 1998.

Uelsmann earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1972. He is a former trustee of the Friends of Photography, a founding member of the Society of Photographic Education, and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. His photographs are in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Bibliotheque National in Paris, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

“My creative process begins when I get out with the camera and interact with the world,” Uelsmann said. “There are no uninteresting things. There are just uninterested people. For me to walk around the block where I live could take five minutes. But when I have a camera, it could take five hours. You just engage in the world differently. If you can get to a point where you respond emotionally, not intellectually, with your camera there’s a whole world to encounter. There’s a lot of source material once you have the freedom of not having to complete an image at the camera.

“Of course, as I developed a way of building images in the darkroom, this also fed back into the way in which I saw the world. So, if I find an interesting tree or rock, I think, ‘Gee, that could be a wonderful background for something.’ I begin to build a vocabulary based on things that I encounter and then I start photographing things specifically for use in my darkroom. I may photograph objects on a light box so they have a white background or shoot things on black velvet so I can sandwich those negatives later in the darkroom.”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Taylor graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1983 and from the University of Florida with a Master of Fine Arts in photography four years later. She spent more than a decade working as a still-life photographer before she began to use the computer to create her images in 1996. Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections at Harvard University, Princeton University, the Museum of Photography in Seoul, Korea, and so on, and is also featured in Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor’s Landscape of Dreams (2005), Solutions Beginning with A (2007), and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2008).

“For more than six years now, I have been using a flatbed scanner instead of a traditional camera to record and interpret the objects I collect,” Taylor said. “I frequent flea markets and search on eBay for old tintypes and toys that seem to have a story to tell. Then, in my studio, I make small pastel drawings as backgrounds and scan each element into my computer separately. Using Photoshop, I am able to arrange and play with these layers in much the same way that I worked with objects in my studio for a still-life photograph. I work very spontaneously and intuitively, trying to come up with images that have a resonance and a somewhat mysterious narrative content. There is no one meaning for any of the images, rather they exist as a kind of visual riddle or open-ended poem, meant to be both playful and provocative.

“Although my images are not traditional photographs, I definitely think of my scanner as a light-sensitive recording device, and there is a camera involved in making most of the images — it just happens that the camera was used over 100 years ago by a photographer who remains anonymous. Sometimes people are confused about my digital images and think that they are somehow reproductions of work that exists originally in some other form. I think of them as ‘digital originals’ since they are created in my computer using a scanner and they do not exist on film.

“I do not photograph people, I am recycling 19th century unclaimed photographs of unknown people. Every once in a while, I use a 35 mm point-and-shoot camera to collect bits of background material. When the image is finally done, which is a slow process and can take weeks or even months, I start to make proofs and then finished prints in editions of 40. My final prints are made on an Epson inkjet printer on a paper that gives the texture and look of a print or watercolor.”

A closing reception for “Just Suppose” will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2. There will be no opening reception.

The VSU Fine Arts Gallery is located on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building, at the intersection of Brookwood Drive and Oak Street. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.

Contact Julie Bowland at (229) 333-5835 or jabowlan@valdosta.edu to learn more.

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