Friday, December 27, 2013

Jasmine Swope

This month we are exhibiting the work of Jasmine Swope in conjunction with our show, Voyages. We were first introduced to Swope’s work when she showed in our first alternative process exhibition, Illusion & Chemistry. We fell in love with her ethereal palladium landscapes and curated The Tides of El Matador, a solo exhibition. 

Tell us about photographing The Tides of El Matador. What was the process from planning to photographing to printing? What do you think about while photographing?
My aim is to make pictures that at the same time are lyrical and informative, intensely personal yet revealing. I am inspired by the ever-changing landscape of surf and sand, and the quiet of early morning light is my favorite time of day to make pictures. While imaging a print on the computer, or in the darkroom watching the image emerge on paper, I think of how a brief moment captured with the snap of the shutter is extended and becomes permanent.

Beyond the aesthetics, is there an environmentally political message in this work?
Yes. My hope is the work will serve as a means for connecting viewers to the beauty and benefits of our ocean world and inspire them to take action to protect and preserve it. All coastal states, including California, are dependent on a healthy marine environment. The ocean plays an enormous role in our quality of life, from influencing our climate to benefiting our economy to providing people with open space and recreation. But coastal marine areas are fragile and jeopardized by overdevelopment, climate change, and pollution. Only public action can reverse the course and protect them for future generations. Fine art can be an effective catalyst for change.

The palladium prints are stunning. How did you learn this printing process and what made you decide this was the best process for the work?

I first became fascinated with the platinum/palladium process while viewing a photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, whose work has inspired me to explore the aesthetics of beauty while making a picture. The Palladium process in particular is a favorite of mine due to its great range of subtle tonal variations and archival permanence. I begin by making a picture with film and then use a hybrid method of combining digital processes with traditional palladium printing. I learned the technique of making a digital negative and platinum/palladium printing at an alternative processes workshop with master printer Kerik Kouklis.

Each one of your portfolios also contains a limited edition handmade artist book. Tell us about your bookmaking experience; how did you learn the art of booking making?
It is self-gratifying to create something from concept to completion.  My intent is to offer a similar visual experience with the images in the book, as one would have viewing an original print. The books are made by hand with some basic tools such as digital print photo paper, a printer, a paper cutter and adhesive. Each page is cut, scored and folded forming a two-page spread, which allows for the pages to open and lay flat within the binding. The process for making the books was self-taught by trial and error.  My hope is that the books are viewed with as much pleasure as I take in making them.

How do you feel your work is interpreted in book form as opposed to wall-mounted prints?
A photography book is a tangible item with a collective body of work telling a story within the progression of sequencing, and can be easily shared. The books are original archival pigment prints equivalent to looking at a wall-mounted photograph and the viewer is able to view a portfolio of images as a group in the series.

You have had an extensive commercial photography career. How has your commercial experience influenced your personal work?
I find there to be a noticable divide between commercial photography and fine art. After 20 plus years of working to client’s specifications, always looking for distinct sharpness and meticulous lighting definition, it was a lengthy endeavour to redirect my sensibility of making a picture primarily by recording an image with technical execution. In my landscape work, when I am concerned with the aesthetics of beauty, my work engages me organically as I merge tonal elegance with the underlying substance of a visual record. I usually work with a small aperture, make long exposures and convert the pictures to black and white to capture both aesthetics and timelessness. There is a timeless quality in a black and white photograph that brings an element of mystery thus allowing memories and emotions to co-exist with the eccentric beauty of the unknown.

Finally, we ask this of all of our artists; how do you define success in art?

For me, success in art is about awareness, embracing the passion within, execution of ideas with conviction, and sharing with others.

The Tides of El Matador is on view at The Kiernan Gallery through December 28.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Voyages Winners: Regula Franz

An avid photographer since her youth, Juror’s Choice winner Regula Franz never dreamed she could make photography her career. Born and raised in Switzerland, Franz’s family did not consider the fine arts a suitable career path and she instead received a BA in English, Linguistics, Anthropology, and Art History. During an exchange year to University of Virginia, Franz received strong encouragement from a photography professor. “She loved my work and encouraged me to apply for grad school at VCU. I had fallen in love with Virginia during my exchange year, so this was a welcome chance to stay in the country with a student visa.”

Juror's Choice Ferry, Strait of Molacca, Indonesia

Franz has embraced her identity as an artist, fully living up to her own definition of success: “You are successful when you keep doing it, no matter what. You apply for grants, shows, teach to make a living, keep doing what inspires you, accept non-creative lulls, get up and do it all over again.” She has also come to embrace her life in the United States, returning to Switzerland in the summers to visit her mother and make work. “America gave me the freedom to live a creative life, and I am grateful for that. I gather my images exclusively in other countries now.”

Saddhu, Katmandu, Nepal

Her current project explores the concept of home, country and belonging. “It has been difficult to ‘switch’ back and forth between Europe and the U.S. every year.” As much of her art documents and is inspired by other cultures, Franz indulges her passion for travel to add to her body of work:

I have always loved adventure and scoping out the unknown. Not sure where that comes from, I grew up in a tiny, landlocked country in the center of Europe, and my Swiss parents never ventured further than neighboring countries like Italy and France. As a student, I did not have money but a lot of free time during breaks. Either you traveled like a nomad, or not at all. In the 70’s, young people in Europe just took to the roads hitchhiking, riding on night trains six to a compartment, sleeping on the beaches in Greece, Italy for free, going east overland to Afghanistan and India. In 1978, I traversed the USA in a $500 Ford LTD for three months, sleeping in it at highway rest stops, eating cheap supermarket food, later selling the car for the same amount of money in Detroit. I spent about $1000, including the flight over.

Funeral Carriage, Laos
Now Franz’s main draw is discovering how other people live and how their daily lives are different from her own. “When I travel, I immerse myself in daily routines of the culture I visit, which you cannot do on a cruise, organized tour, or in luxury hotels. I take local transport only, rarely fly, take boats, rickshaws, often rent a bicycle, or walk.” She does not pre-plan her shoots or artistic concepts, preferring inspiration to strike on its own accord. “My process is to linger, hang out, observe, shoot. I never travel less than a month to any given country.” Franz edits her photographs upon returning home, printing her images so that she can review her work on paper. “I print a lot of images to get the visual impact. Digital printing is my passion. I love watercolor papers and the photographic object in my hand.”

Yakhide, Muktinath, Nepal

Franz sees herself as a visual ambassador, seeking out and sharing the interesting, the wondrous, and the illuminating. She strongly believes that there is still a lot left to explore. “Even with globalization and Facebook, the world is still enormous, and it takes some real effort to traverse it.”

Burial Cave, Indonesia

Voyages is on view through December 28, 2013.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Voyages Winners: Kristianne Koch

For as long as she can remember, Director’s Choice winner Kristianne Koch has had an incredibly strong connection to the ocean. In 2000 she and her now-husband set sail from the San Diego area to voyage across the Pacific. The journey was unexpectedly rough, necessitating one of the pair to keep watch at all times. By the time they reached their destination, however, Koch had gained a deeper connection with the ocean. “I didn't consider how significant the ocean has always been for me as an artist until I sailed across the Pacific. Years ago I was embarrassed to have it influence my work because it's so cliché, but now it's such an integral part of who I am ‒ just like photography is ‒ and I'm proud of it.”  

Land Ho

Growing up in a small surf town in California Koch honed her photography skills on the beach. Though she now appreciates growing up in a sleepy coastal town, Koch originally rejected her hometown, moving as far east as Colorado for a while. “I was turned around and couldn’t get my bearings – my inspiration went flat. The coastline is my baseline.” After having a child and eventually moving back to the Pacific coast, she grew to appreciate the culture and attitudes that her town embodies. She loves the familial feeling of the community, but even that is not close enough to the ocean for her. “The ultimate goal is to live on a boat that takes me from coastline to coastline all over the world – it fits in with my pursuit of freedom.”

Her winning image, Tiputa Pass Dive is part of a new artistic direction. Due to a chance accident on her sailing adventure she began to explore underwater photography. Their boat ran aground, and Koch photographed the damaged hull while and husband inspecting it. Six months later she arrived home, processed the film and discovered her favorite image from the entire trip was taken that day. The photograph was widely exhibited and has inspired most of her current water work. “It was the a-ha moment that I could merge my passions for the ocean and fine art photography.”  This revelation has shaped her definition of success:

Director's Choice: Tiputa Pass Dive
I believe success in art is when you are honestly expressing who you really are and you are able to create authentic work consistently over the course of many, many years. Success is also allowing your mentors and your peers help guide you along your path. I feel truly successful that I have been able to stay passionate and true to myself as an artist over the course of 25 years and I have many wonderful people to thank for their guidance and support during all of that time. 

While her aquatic environment is perhaps the largest influence in her work, Koch is drawn to a variety of genres and sustains a successful commercial career. On creating her own work, she says, “it comes down to expressing recurring concepts in a fresh way because I like to be challenged by a new process. Each time I work in a different genre it reveals another part of myself as an artist. The main themes in my work are holding on and letting go and being vulnerable yet capable.”

At the Edge

Voyages is on view through December 28, 2013.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Announcement: New Call for Work!

Expressions: Contemporary Portraiture
Deadline: February 21, 2014
Exhibition: April 2 - 26
Opening Reception: April 4

©Robin Rice

Historically, portraiture has relied heavily on artistic interpretation of the subject. Photographs, while still embracing the artist’s point of view, record selected surroundings and fractions of seconds. This allows for a different kind of interpretation; one based on real-life context rather than medium and imagination. For Expressions: Contemporary Portraiture The Kiernan Gallery seeks photographs of the self or of others that capture the expression, personality, or mood of the subject.
For this exhibition, juror Robin Rice will select up to 25 images for display in the main gallery, and up to an additional 35 to be included in the online gallery. All images will be reproduced in an exhibition catalogue available for purchase. A Juror’s Choice and Director’s Choice will also be announced and will receive a free copy of the catalogue.

All photographic media are encouraged.

About the Juror
Robin Rice’s mission is simple: to document the world around her in a cinematic way. Whether capturing the innate beauty of tucked-away South American landscapes or the reflective moments of unknowing subjects, her photographs are always candid. As a photographer, Robin has an earthy and bohemian way of portraying people and situations that is reflective of the way she lives life. When she is not searching for inspiration from local people and places around the world, she runs The Robin Rice Gallery in New York City. As an artist who feels lucky to be able to parlay her love of the photographic medium into a career, she treats her gallery like a family rather than a business and is dedicated to supporting the work of established and local artists.

For more information and to see submission guidelines visit: