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Current Works 2006, The Kansas City Star (2/15/07)

Posted on Thu, Feb. 15, 2007
REVIEW | Current Works 2006
Lasting images at SCP
Photographers find the extraordinary in the ordinary.
By THERESA BEMBNISTER

The images’ large areas of white space and repeating shapes and forms lend a contemplative feel to the soon-to-be defunct nonprofit organization’s biennial juried showcase. The artwork alone is worth a trip to the gallery, not to mention that Saturday is the final opportunity to visit the SCP.

Lesley Martin, executive book editor for the nonprofit photography organization Aperture, handpicked the six artists represented. Each artist presents a small, cohesive series of photographs that fit loosely under the umbrella of an overlying visual and conceptual theme.

In her curatorial statement, Martin writes, “In each of these bodies of work, one of the most foundational aspects of photography — the ability of the artist to take quotidian objects and show them in a transfiguring light — is used to carefully direct the viewer’s curiosity.”

Jamie Kreher and Katie Watson accomplish this by removing everyday objects from their usual surroundings, giving viewers a chance to see, and not just look at, what otherwise becomes banal.

In Kreher’s witty series of photographs, the artist cuts the grass, shrubbery, wood chips and concrete curbs of traffic islands out of their parking lots and sets them adrift in the sea of a plain white background.

Watson, a junior in the photo/new media department of the Kansas City Art Institute, presents pictures of household furniture and hardware neatly folded and stacked. A deflated air mattress and bedclothes, bathroom tiles, towels and a showerhead are separated by room, piled one on top of another and photographed against a white backdrop.

Each of Margo Geddes photographs features the same shape within a different setting — in one photo it is a bush, in another a pile of gravel, snow or brush. Much like Kreher’s island repetition, Geddes’ recurring shape takes on a reflective, Zen-like quality.

Any parent who has attempted to snap an action shot of their son or daughter up to bat from behind the protective grill of the backstop will find the aesthetic of Paul Clark’s “Barrier” series familiar.

Clark takes black-and-white photographs of mundane scenes of houses, office buildings, backyards and railroad crossings from behind plastic and aluminum link fences. The crisscross patterning is so close to the lens that it stays in focus while the landscape in the background becomes blurry. The far-off viewpoint and fenced in nature of the subjects give this series a subtle air of voyeurism or surveillance.

Jeffrey Krolick and Chris Jordan document scenes without the visual gimmicks employed by the other artists in this show.

Krolick is a nature photographer of sorts — his lush green landscapes capture signs of man, flora and fauna. Short of traveling to remote park areas, this is the experience of nature that most Americans are accustomed to, the landscape seen from the car window, the big sky above the roofs of the housing development, the sweeping vista across the train tracks. His pictures demonstrate truce between beauty and spoil. This is nature photography at its most straightforward and truthful.

Jordan’s photos also capture the commingling of man and nature. He documents muddied objects left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — jars of food, carpets, a phone book, church pews. These are not the images viewers are used to seeing on TV or in newspapers. Here, Jordan’s frames are full of once useful objects that have been reduced to trash.