Daily Candy and more

Whew, I'm wiped out--big week back and forth between NJ and Philly. The gallery talk at Haverford on Tuesday went quite well I think, despite one point where I believe I mentioned Jung, Freud and semiotics in one sentence. (In my defense, I was being self-deprecating.) Shen Wei's description of his work was particularly eloquent and interesting, and it made me like his images that much more.

In other self-promotion news my image "Fort" is up on Daily Candy as part of their Affordable Art Roundup (through The Ten), screenshot below. Larissa Leclair also kindly took some photos at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery when she visited there which you can also see below. Which leads me to a call to donate to Jennifer's very cool new endeavor called "Crusade for Collecting." You can contribute via Kickstarter; if you're interested you've got 33 days to join the ultra-cool Backers club, so go help her out and see more details about the project here.

Man I could use a nap...


Gallery talk tomorrow at 4:30

Through the Plain Camera: Small and Shapely Pleasures in Contemporary PhotographyGallery Talk with artists Elizabeth Fleming, Christian Patterson, and Shen Wei led by curators Sarah Kaufman and Rebecca Robertson
Featuring work by: Jessica Backhaus, Elizabeth Fleming, Vita Litvak, Christian Patterson, and Shen Wei Curated by Sarah Kaufman and Rebecca Robertson

October 21-December 11, 2011

Opening Reception: Friday, October 21, 2011, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Gallery Talk: Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 4:30 p.m.


While contemporary photographic practice has recently moved toward the the constructed image, this show celebrates five photographers who take pictures. Theirs remains "a process based not on synthesis but on selection," as John Szarkowski wrote in 1966. Embracing photography’s essential characteristics, they ask the world to reveal itself and to represent something more, building a web of meaning through relationship and metaphor.

For More Info

Hurford Humanities Center


Haverford: tonight's the night

© Shen Wei
© Vita Litvak

Tonight's the night! Thanks to Robin Cembalest, executive editor of ARTnews for mentioning the show (in the post "I'll stop the world and melt with you") using my Rejected popsicle image:

“Through the Plain Camera: Small and Shapely Pleasures in Contemporary Photography,” opening at 5:30 at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. The exhibition, curated by ARTnews photo editor Rebecca Robertson and Sarah Kaufman, spotlights images of “intimate, unposed moments seemingly snapped from the daily lives of the photographers: a stain on a sofa, a bar of soap left on the sink, a perfectly wrapped package of Chinese noodle soup.”

Now I have to go figure out what the heck I'm going to wear. The gallery is about 20 minutes away from where I grew up so I'm looking forward to seeing my family, some childhood friends, and parents of childhood friends this evening (despite the fact that I had a stress dream about trying to figure out what the heck I'm going to wear...)


Past and present

I'm potentially going to completely embarrass myself here, but I've been rereading old journals as "research" for my newest project and find myself alternately vaguely impressed and vaguely mortified by my 16-year-old self. I had to keep a notebook for English class where I was required to write for about 15 minutes every night during my sophomore year, and it's interesting how open I managed to be within the framework, given that I knew my teacher would be reading my entries. When I write about my life and stick with stream-of-consciousness I find the pages holding my interest (though only most likely because it's about myself, not because it's inherently any good...). But where I decide to delve into fiction it's wretched. My stories are overwrought, trying too hard, flowery, and sadly seem to be attempting a paltry imitation of some sort of Nabokovian voice that doesn't suit me.

The reason I mention all this is because there are a fair amount of pages that touch on my future, and I find myself reaching back through the last 20 (20?!) years trying to remember what it felt like to be a teenager, to not know the bulk of what was coming formatively: who I would marry, where I would live, how many children I would have (if any). I recall it being scary to wonder how it would all play out, while simultaneously not being able to grasp the reality of what it meant to be an adult.

I can only remember being that age abstractly--though in many ways my teenage voice on the page is not so different from the voice I use in my current journals. Frankly it's a bit scary to see how much I resemble myself, if that makes sense--the ideas I ponder that I think are so original to the present day are in many cases just rehashed bits I've been going over again and again, apparently for years on end. Why is the capacity for memory so selective? With how much I think I've actually changed over time my personality, for all its growth, has in most respects remained fairly fixed. I do find that in this journal I'm less pessimistic than I recall being, though I was certainly cynical (weren't we all at that age) and as over analytical as I am now. Long story short, behold my desires for my future, and hold them up to my current state based on whatever past entries you may have read here on the blog (and please try not to laugh):

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, but I don't know how I can make a living from it. I guess when I was young I figured I'd just find some rich guy, fall in love, get married and then I'd be fine. But that's kid stuff. The first thing I want to do is get married to a great guy (not a rich one). Then I want a job I love, in art, or writing, or something creative. I don't know if I want to have children or not--I mean, I do, but there's such a loss of freedom. I guess I'll wait until I'm in my 30s. Here I am planning my life and watch, everything I get will be the exact opposite of everything I want. 
Anyhow, last night I put Annie [my little sister who is 12 years younger than I am] to bed, she was being so cute. And I remembered how when she was very little and she would cry and cry I would to sing her to sleep. Then she got older and I probably haven't sung to her in about six months. So last night I just started singing "Hush little baby" and her eyes lit up. I said "do you remember that song?" and she said "uh-huh (yes) keep singing!" She made me sing it to her three times. She seemed peaceful, yet there was also a sadness behind her eyes, as if she was remembering something. Could she possibly recall how I used to sing to her in the dark, rocking her in the rocking chair when I was very upset? That's what I used to do for comfort. As she got older I thought she didn't care as much, but now I see she does and that makes me very, very happy. 
I've been singing "Hush little baby" to the girls since they were born, and I still do, so life really does maintain a certain trajectory. It appears I've gotten what I essentially wanted when I was sixteen, which is quite heartening I think.

So that's my trip down memory lane, thanks for indulging me. Now I think I'll go blush in the corner for a bit. Adieu.


Show opening this Friday

I'm happy to be included in what looks to be a great show which is opening at Haverford College's Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery this Friday the 21st from 5:30-7:30. I'll be there so if you're in the Philly area please come by and say hello! Ten of my photographs will be up alongside work by Jessica Backhaus, Vita Litvak, Christian Patterson and Shen WeiI'll also be giving a gallery talk along with Christian and Shen on Tuesday the 25th at 4:30.

The statement for the show really touches on many of the things I've thought about in terms of my own themes and interests so I'm going to copy much of it below for your reading pleasure. To see the entire write-up and for more information on directions, etc. go here.

In 1967 the Museum of Modern Art in New York unveiled a revolutionary show, New Documents, which heralded the arrival of a new photographic style, one that prized ordinary subjects captured in a snapshot-like fashion. The exhibition, which featured the works of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander and Gary Winogrand, was organized by the late John Szarkowski, a man whose 2007 New York Times obituary called him “a curator who almost single-handedly elevated photography’s status in the last half-century to that of a fine art.” Szarkowski was moved by the intimacy and personal exploration of a new generation of photographic artists, writing in the text that accompanied New Documents that “(t)heir aim has been not to reform life, but to know it.” Today, almost 45 years after he wrote those words, their influence can still be felt.
Through the Plain Camera: Small and Shapely Pleasures in Contemporary Photography, which runs at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery October 21 through December 11, gathers together some of the young voices in contemporary photography who are working from and grappling with Szarkowski’s legacy. In the show’s 36 images, we see intimate, unposed moments seemingly snapped from the daily lives of the photographers: a stain on a sofa, a bar of soap left on the sink, a perfectly wrapped package of Chinese noodle soup. These casually captured, private moments—most of which are devoid of human subjects—feel at once deeply personal and specific to the lives of the artists and yet also broadly universal and relatable to the viewers. They are lively and expressive, but also enigmatic.

Curated by Sarah Kaufman ’03 and Rebecca Robertson BMC ’00, both former students of Professor of Fine Arts William Earle Williams, Through the Plain Camera celebrates photographers who take pictures that describe and yet transcend everyday experience, suggesting something about the specific interior lives of these artists. Inspired by Szarkowsky’s writing, Kaufman and Robertson have gathered unconstructed, unmanipulated images, which represent direct photographic interaction with the world as it is, so that we may all look at their commonplace subjects with new eyes. “There are different kinds of responses that you can have looking at the world around you,” says Kaufman, who is a visiting assistant professor of art at Ursinus College. “I would hope that people looking at the show could take it back with them and start to think about what kinds of meanings their own experience can have.”

Here's the work artfully framed and wrapped by my fantastic better half...