By Jacob Cutler
With the recent move of the Photographic Resource Center from its original home at Boston University to Lesley University. The PRC was eager to present its first show in its temporary space in the VanDernoot Gallery in Porter Square, . “Exposure 2018” is a juried group exhibition featuring the works of photographers from Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and beyond. Each artist has their own distinct style while complimenting the others. The show was juried by the acclaimed photographer, curator, editor and educator, Christopher Rauschenberg.
While Rauschenberg has not revealed his requirements for the art that he chose, one can see distinct connections between the majority of the 11 photographers’ work that were chosen. Each artists work heavily featured humans or a human element. Upon looking at the work, one can see how each artist is making work that deals with their own identity or the identity of others.
Julie Mihaly’s series, “The Attic,” is a body of work in which Mihaly photographed items from her mother that she couldn’t part with after her death. Her mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and as time went on, she would forget more and more and lose sight of who she was. Each item that was photographed is accompanied by a few paragraphs of text explaining the significance of the item and why it was representative of Mihaly’s mother. Her photograph, “Lipstick,” is of an old Vogue magazine, a vial of perfume, a brooch and four tubes of lipstick. The text explains how her mother loved her lipstick and “the day she forgot to wear lipstick would be the day the Earth stopped rotating on its axis.” Mihaly’s decision to include text with the photos allows the viewer to truly understand the gravity of the situation and how Alzheimer’s affected Mihaly and her mother. Separately, the images and the writing are beautiful works of art, but together they perfectly complement each other and work best in coexistence.
Pittsburg photographer Francis Cristafo is a teacher for an afterschool arts program. For his series “Holdup in the Hood,” Cristafo took portraits of each of his students and printed the image. He then had his students redraw themselves based on the photograph. Cristafo than photographed the students holding up their redrawn versions of themselves.
The series itself is a study on how we perceive ourselves, and specifically how that affects children. Each drawing is influenced by what the student may have heard, been told, or how they see their future self. What is most interesting about this series is that the viewer only sees the images of the children holding their drawings in front of their face. They never see the child’s actual face. This decision to exclude the original portrait from the series forces the viewer to see the children for how they see themselves. These images bring up questions of one’s own self-identity. They ponder when and how they began to view themselves the way that they do currently.
The artists selected for “Exposure 2018” bring their own distinct styles to the table. As one walks through the gallery they are brought on a journey with many stops unlike the last. Rauschenberg did a stellar job of curating this show that will be on view until August 18.
(“Exposure 2018: The 22nd Annual PRC Juried Exhibition” continues through August 18 at the VanDernoot Gallery is in Lesley University’s University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Ave, Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The gallery is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon-6 p.m. and Thursdays from noon-8 p.m. For more information, call 617-975-0600.)