JUNE 3 - JULY 23, 2011
Photo-Synthesis brings together three contemporary artists whose photographic works re- contextualize elements of nature. Penny Olson uses nature photography as a starting point for painterly abstract color field images. Stephen Galloway and Young Kim incorporate nature as still life material, extracting natural elements from their original setting, arranging them in their studios and making photographs of the arrangements.
Stephen Galloway’s most recent compositions of collected moss are printed as oversize LightJet C-prints. Made with a scan-back camera for ultra-high resolution, the assertive images act as magnifiers of the plant’s materiality. Although one may be reminded of Andy Goldsworthy’s assemblages of leaves, twigs or rocks, Galloway’s work is distinctly different in that all his compositions are made in the studio rather than in situ. They are also absent the sense of structural gymnastics required for Goldsworthy’s arrangements. Galloway’s images do not make us think of the cleverness of their maker so much as they invite us to look more closely at generally undistinguished elements of nature that have, ironically, been removed from their vital habitats.
Young Kim began her series of plant-based photographs by collecting trimmings of trees in her neighborhood—blossoms, leaves and twigs. She arranges the delicate blossoms and leaves into circles, squares, and rectangles—geometric forms that bring strength to the fragile components. These sensitively composed arrangements are akin to the mindfulness behind Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Kim’s images of twigs are created through another process that relies heavily on chance. She tosses the twigs in the air and observes the compositions created when they have fallen. Among these chance compositions, she chooses to photograph certain ones for her series of Calligraphy images, which have the gestural quality of their namesake.
Penny Olson photographs flowers, among other natural features, as raw material from which she creates abstract compositions. Her plaid or striped images are actually computer-aided extrusions of digital pixels within her original photographs of nature. Chance is also a factor in Olson’s work since she sets the mathematical instructions that create abstract images from found ones, but she cannot fully predict the visual results and does not manipulate them afterward. Olson’s photographic color fields certainly owe something to Mark Rothko’s light-imbued paintings of color, but they may be more closely related to contemporary abstract painters like Tim Bavington, whose color field / op art stripe and grid compositions are based in part on predetermined factors.
Chandra Cerrito, Curator
About the Artists
Stephen Galloway is a Bay Area artist who received his MFA from San Francisco State University in 1994. He has been exhibiting nationally since 1990, including solo exhibitions at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA and Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa, CA. His work has also been featured in exhibitions at the San Jose Museum of Art, SF Camerawork and Silver Eye Center of Photography in Pittsburgh, PA.
Born in Korea, Young Kim currently resides in Cleveland, OH. She received her MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA in 1992. Her extensive exhibition record includes shows at the Smithsonian Institution, the Queens Museum of Art in Queens, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, Dorsky Gallery in Long Island City, NY, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport, CA, Center for the Fine Arts in Miami, FL, Friends of Photography at Ansel Adams Center, San Francisco, the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY and the Kumho Art Museum in Seoul, Korea.
Bay Area artist Penny Olson received her MFA from UCLA in 1986. Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manila, Philippines, Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong, National Arts Center, Jakarta, Indonesia, Downey Museum of Art, Downey, CA, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, National Museum of Singapore, Kyoto National Museum of Art, Kyoto, Japan, North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei.