About the Exhibit -

In thinking about putting together a group of photographers’ work that dealt with the theme of the 2004 Society for Photographic Education conference, “Place: Home-Neighborhood-Nation”, I immediately knew I wanted to use Judy Gelles’ night photographs of the mobile home retirement communities in Florida. This work has an iconic quality about it that somewhat parodies the idea of “home”, as described by Bachelard in the Poetics of Space , paraphrased …”A sanctuary, a shelter, an immemorial domain “. Although residing in sterile and almost identical factory-made structures, the unseen inhabitants make their personal marks with Victorian lawn furniture, palm trees and plantings, awnings, etc. The result is a silent, haunting surrealism, which repulses rather than invites habitation.

Judy suggested I look at the work of Karen Bucher, whose series of photographs of her mother in her home on a farm in Pennsylvania was a direct contrast and yet complementary to the mobile home series. The human presence suggested by the mobile homes becomes actual here, with the images of her mother, interiors and belongings. There is a sense of of time suspended, as in the mobile home series. There is also a similar sense of silence, as the mother is most often very alone in these images, surrounded by possessions from decades past.

David Husom’s work I discovered at the last SPE conference in Austin, during the Sunday morning Open Portfolio sharing. His gorgeous, large color images of very iconic architecture from 1930’s and 40’s fairgrounds seemed to relate and also to add a bit of lightness to the work of the other two artists. The date most of the buildings were used relates to much of the memorabilia in Bucher’s work, and the still, unoccupied presence of the buildings reminded me of Gelles’. Rather than being surreal in a haunting sense though, these images have a lightness and humor about them as well as nostalgia. Taken together, the work of these three photographers seemed to take me to a “place” both specific and unknowable in time, as if within a fragile interior memory, floating somewhere in history.

Barbara Shamblin

Salve Regina University
Newport, RI

At the Exhibit -

Common Places Photographs by Karen Bucher, Judy Gelles, David Husom was at Arnold Art Gallery in Newport RI March 13th to 27th 2004 during the National Conference of the Society for Photographic Education. Here are the three artists, Bucher, Gelles and Husom, at the opening:

About Arnold Art Gallery -

Historic Photo of
Arnold Gallery

Arnold Art Store and Gallery
210 Thames Street, Newport, R.I. 02840
401-847-2273 - Fax 401-848-0156

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