Works of 10 Puget Sound-area artists at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art range from pinhole-camera landscapes to large-scale Polaroids.
“Women in Photography,” now showing at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, offers a startling range of texture, technique and content by 10 Puget Sound-area artists. The show includes large-scale Polaroids, pinhole-camera landscapes, iPhone captures and classic gelatin silver prints. Photograph-as-document sits side by side with photograph-as-sorcery.
The show’s organizers — BIMA chief curator Greg Robinson, BIMA curatorial associate Amy Sawyer and photographer Linda Wolf — are more interested in exploring the medium’s wide-ranging possibilities than in sticking to a specific theme.
Wolf, who initiated the project, is a Bainbridge-based photographer who co-founded Women in Photography International in 1980 when she lived in Los Angeles. In her co-curator statement, she says the show aims at “advancing and honoring women’s perspectives.” But little about it feels doctrinaire. Instead, there’s a sense of curious minds surging ahead in multiple directions.
‘Women in Photography’
10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Oct. 1, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, 550 Winslow Way E., Bainbridge Island; free (206-842-4451 or www.biartmuseum.org).
Heather Boose Weiss handles the sorcery end of things. Her large-scale black-and-white archival pigment prints play with time lapse and lighting effects in truly abracadabra fashion. In “Saints,” a night sky full of streaky stars looks down on a gathering of luminous beings on a field’s far horizon. The blazing white lights may be car headlamps (they seem to come in pairs), but the effect is utterly eerie. In other images, Weiss teases magic from shadow manipulation (“Goddess”) and uses tricks with light exposure to insert shining presences into crisply shot backdrops (“Mystic Sail,” “The Other Side of a Rock”).
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Janet Neuhauser achieves painterly effects with 30- to 60-minute exposures of her pinhole camera. The results include the glowing green fantasia of “Road 2470: Olympic National Forest” and eye-popping shapes and colors in “The Night Before Rachel’s Wedding, Truro Beach, Cape Cod.”
Experimentation in C. Davida Ingram’s work has more to do with the print process than the camera. “Lexical Tutor Series 1-4” consists of color images of a young woman on a beach, printed on ultra-sheer panels: gauzy material that, from certain angles, makes the images faint and ghostly but, from other angles, gives them a solid feel thanks to a dark-textured backdrop behind the scrims.
“Women in Photography” also includes work that’s about the photographer making a close, intuitive connection with her subjects, as Diane Arbus did. Marsha Burns’ untitled portraits, especially her large-scale unique Polaroids from the late 1980s, let you stare right into the essence of dreamy or restless souls with whom she’s clearly struck up a rapport. Marilyn Montufar’s shots of moody rebels (“Tony in Bed”) and cheery drag queens (“Austin in the Kitchen”) have a similar effect.
The show’s generous helping of Mary Randlett gelatin silver prints concentrates on her sublime nature studies (Randlett is also a noted portrait photographer). These classic works can be small in size but epic in their vision. “Mountain View from West Olympia,” with its tiramisu-like layers of sky, bright cloud, dark cloud, Mount Rainier icecap and forest horizon, is a case in point. Other works — “Geometric Water Form #1,” “At River’s Edge” — are studies in close-up: spare, shadowy, flirting with abstraction.
A few pieces are befuddling. Megumi Shauna Arai’s works, juxtaposing large color photographs with paper sloppily smeared in sumi ink by audience members at a public performance (viewable on video), have some sort of concept behind them, but it’s tough to say what it is.
Overall, though, there are thrilling discoveries to make here — including a generous helping of co-curator Wolf’s own powerful pieces that date back as far as the early 1970s.