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Cameraless Images by Pamela Ellis Hawkes

Posted by boston.com  March 7, 2014 10:00 AM

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Trident Gallery is pleased to present “Pale Shadows: Cameraless Images by Pamela Ellis Hawkes,” an exhibition of cyanotypes, tintypes, and pigment prints captured without a camera.
 
In 2008, the Polaroid Corporation stopped production of Type 55 film, a 4”x5” instant film that Hawkes had been using, almost exclusively, for twenty years.  After abortive experiments with digital cameras, she realized that her passion for photography is in the process of making an art object, in the hand-made, unique qualities of the final print.
 
Inspired by flickering shadows on her studio walls and by the earliest works of photography, mad ein the 1830s by inventor Henry Fox Talbot, who aspired to “fix a shadow” onto paper, Hawkes resolved to forgo cameras entirely, and she began to experiment with the cyanotype process to make photograms, images made by placing objects directly in contact with light-sensitive paper.  In so doing, Hawkes joined other important contemporary photographers who have returned to “historical” or “alternative” photographic processes to refresh and develop their artistic visions.
 
Though changing her medium abruptly, Hawkes continued to develop the artistic vision she has explored throughout her career, a vision which questions the perceived realities within photographs; which explores the elusive points of contact between reality, memory, and imagination; and which participates in the ageless calling of artists to preserve and honor the ephemeral, to fix fleeting shadows and transmute loss into beauty.
 
As Pliny the Elder retells the legend, the first painting was created by a woman who, deeply in love with a man soon to depart on a long journey, traced the shadow of his profile on a wall.  In our later age crowded with mechanical images, the works of art in “Pale Shadows” retain the memory of touch, the aura of something unique now lost to time: an ancestor’s translucent dress and apron have the volume of ghosts; a discarded piece of plastic is revealed to be so delicate and beautiful that it seems biological, a metaphor for all that is evanescent; and remembered flowers are re-imagined in vivid, improbable geometries.
 
Pamela Ellis Hawkes lives and works in Rockport, Massachusetts. Solo exhibitions of her work have been shown at the Pepper Gallery (Boston), the Photographic Resource Center (Boston), The Houston Center for Photography, the Arthur Griffin Center for Photographic Arts (Winchester MA), the Rockport Art Association, and other venues.  Her work can be found in a number of prestigious collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover MA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Danforth Museum of Art (Framingham MA), the Polaroid Collection (Waltham MA), and the Boston Public Library.

Trident Gallery is a showcase for the contemporary art of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, and its exhibitions have a leading role in the vital arts scene of Cape Ann, a region with an extraordinary artistic legacy and continuing national importance.  TridentGallery.com.

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