Now on view in the RSM Art Gallery is The Hidden World of the Nearby, an installation of large format photographs by John Wawrzonek. All are invited to attend an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, September 13, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Please visit the gallery to view the show before it closes on September 30.
The Hidden World of the Nearby: Photographs by John Wawrzonek
August 20 – September 30
Thursday, September 13
I started photographing as a hobby when I was 8. I was 30 and working at Bose Corporation when I got the urge to make really good large prints of nature. I bought a view camera in 1974. I did not want my pictures to give themselves away as photographs by being out of focus or failing to show fine detail. I liked finely detailed texture and color and worked for the most part by finding these qualities in nature, and only then working on making the composition.
I also began to realize that making my own prints would be important. The best printing method I found was called dye transfer which was invented in the 1930s. Besides giving me control over contrast and saturation it was capable of extraordinarily brilliant color. I used the process for 19 years until the materials were discontinued. By then Epson had started to make extraordinary digital printers with archival inks.
The subjects I reacted to most strongly were like tapestries, extending from corner to corner and often with little in the way of a center of interest. I wanted the viewer’s eye to wander so I put in only hints of a “subject” or center of interest.
After 28 years with the view camera I found it more and more difficult to find new subjects. But soon a new very good digital camera perked my interest again. I found many mums with extraordinary colors at a local nursery and began to enjoy creating the subject in a sense as well as photographing. When photographing the mums, I had made a trundle that allowed me to put several pots side-by-side with the camera shooting straight down. Shooting digital involved photographing in sections and using focus stacking to get really good detail with everything in focus. The large “mélange” required about 120 exposures.
The “musical” images are created in Photoshop from studio photographs made for me by Douglas Saglio. All but one of the images is almost entirely based on edges, so the instrument becomes in a sense transparent so I can create a foreground (the melody) and a repeating background (a continuo). There are just two instruments: a saxophone and a French horn in the images on display. What is next I am not sure, but there are many more musical instruments to work with.
My original collection of landscapes I called “The Hidden World of the Nearby” since all the images were made from ordinary roadsides (often Interstate Highways) where one would usually not think of photographing. In a sense, the flowers and musical instruments are also hidden images, only revealed after much experimenting.
Locally I have been seeing the effects of global warming. At the moment I am obsessed with a website on global warming that blends my various careers and skills to try to teach about what is happening and to warn that we are on the edge of warmth that we must find a way of stopping. The website is inanothersshoes.com. More of my work can be found on my website wawrzonek.com.