SCAD’s Silver & Ink exhibition is a great way to finally get all the photographic talent rolling around Savannah in one place. Some of the students featured in the exhibit I’ve known for a long time, have attended classes with, and have watched them grow and really hone their craft over the years. What follows is a top 8 of some of my favorite Silver & Ink pieces:
1. Maria Minnelli: Pineapple Fish, Bologna
Maria’s work is so smart. She’s sharp. Her two images came from her thesis exhibition currently on display at Oglethorpe Gallery, Das Unheimliche, which refers to Freud’s concept of the uncanny, about encountering something both well known and foreign, leaving you with both feelings of familiarity and uneasiness. And she nailed it. They’re both absurd and humorous, and just off balance enough to really make you think about just what is going on. There’s something about Bologna that screams out to the weird grilled cheese scene in Benny and Joon that everyone loves. It’s a charming yet arresting image that makes sense to the eyes, but when your brain tries to process it, you can feel it tripping over the logic. I think it’s the steam drifting up into the light. The shine on the wet deli slices. It’s brilliant. The tiny detail of the screws going into the fish to hold in the pineapple, the texture of the brown paper against the stark pattern, its point mimicking the point of the fish head—it’s down to a perfect, absurd, creative science.
2. Marcie Hancock: Danhopper, Phase #6
I will always endlessly love Marcie’s work because she always plays things so close to the chest. She’s a quiet force of nature. She’s an ocean with a camera. Her photos always appear simple at first, but spend some time with them and you’ll see rapids rushing below the surface. Both of her photos were a part of two different larger series, the first from a sweep of six insanely gorgeous collages based off of family photos. The one featured in Silver & Ink was of her great-grandfather Danhopper, and it feels heavy and compassionate with history– though you can never be sure just whose history it’s representing. The second photo is from a series entitled Year of the Black Water Snake, which was a project Hancock undertook in honor of 2013. It’s best explained by Marcie herself: “Snake years are characteristic of awakenings. Things that have been dormant emerge from the dark, revealed in the light. Things end so that they may begin again.” Her work is always so deeply rooted in so much thought, meaning, and research, aged like a fine wine, steeped like a tea. And these two photos are some examples of her best work so far.
3. Nikki Krecicki: Darkening Separation
Being a word-lover and photo aficionado, the link between the title and the mood of this photo really, really appealed to me. Darkening Separation. A soaking into the earth. The way the gold complements the dark forest green of the shrubs, the expression on her dark lipsticked face. It’s a petite mort, a little death, a moment of breaking through a sparsely populated surface, an absorption. Nikki’s work is fashion elevated to fine art, raw yet still so feminine, and insanely powerful in its tones.
4. Sarah Gardener: Buk Choy & Burlap
Sarah’s piece was from a larger series called Rex et Regina (meaning The King and Queen in Latin) inspired by Northern Renaissance paintings. Each piece in this series was taken with 8X10 film and entirely encompasses the concept of individuality on several different planes. The series was all portraits of individuals; an organic headdress or crown was made specifically for them, neither of which could be reproduced. The photographs were then printed by hand in an alcohol transfer process, further supporting the uniqueness of each sitting. The piece just feels authentic and historic. I can feel the process when I look at it.
5. Pablo Serrano: El Dorado, Humacao
I think Pablo might be a wizard. Folks, architectural photography is hard. It’s really, really hard. And he makes it seem effortless. You can’t pick up a building and move it to suit your vision. You can’t rearrange the bricks of a wall or tell it to tilt its head. You can only move your own body to create your shot—and the compositions that Pablo finds in his work are truly incredible. He’s the master of subtraction. A sculptor of buildings and light. These two photos are part of a larger series about the vernacular architecture of Puerto Rico, and were shot with 4×5 film, which obviously complicated things. You only have about 10 frames a box, which isn’t cheap, and in Pablo’s words he was working with “imprecise architecture” and a “precise tool” which took a lot of time to produce. He often took ten minutes or longer just to line up a single shot. This was no easy feat to pull off, and I think he’s incredible for that.
6. Ethan Guice: Girl with the Pearl Earring
When I was walking around the gallery, this rendition of a classic Vermeer hit me right in the face. Appropriately, it was created during a Controlled Lighting class; the lighting here is so perfect and sumptuous that it made me geek out for a solid ten minutes. This was part of a larger series where Guice turned paintings into photographs with more of a modern take on the clothing. The choice to put the model in a blue beanie to replace the head wrap of the original is a complete knock out. Everything about this photo just demands your attention. The slight shine of the pearl only hinting at its presence, the milk white of the collar, the absolute deadbolt lock of her gaze—everything screams Vermeer while also somehow feeling completely fresh. I’m in love.
7. Andrew Lyman: Devon – China Town, Alone Together
Andrew Lyman’s work has always made me feel pleasantly off balance. Like when you’re a little drunk teetering on the edge of the sidewalk and everything looks so beautiful it suddenly becomes unfamiliar and you can’t help but cry a little bit. It’s gritty but still somehow soft around the edges and endlessly endearing. This photo was from a series entitled Alone Together, and in Lyman’s own words it’s all about “conjuring feelings of intimacy and solitude through manufactured and found interactions.” Read that again. Everything is pointedly opposing. Everything is at ends with itself, but somehow he photographically communicates it every single time. Intimacy and solitude, found and manufactured. I don’t know how he does it, but it works.
8. Haley Varacallo, Night Workers
This piece is also part of a larger series entitled Misconception, which is classic fringe documentary work of strippers, burlesque dancers, street performers, and drag queens. But what I love so much about this is Haley’s personal investment in the work. Most often her subjects are her own very close friends, and they’re represented in a romanticized way that is obviously more than just straight documentary. The bright lights complement the makeup on the two figures so well, and the reflections from the neon and rain on the window build up layer after layer after layer. I might be reading too far into it but those layers almost seem like veils, and can become pretty representative of the experience of these people, whether it be the layers of makeup to transform them, or the frequent misconceptions they get buried under. It’s a strong statement, and it shows.
Silver & Ink remains on display at SCAD’s Gutstein Gallery until June 1.