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Works by five women photographers on view at JRB at the Elms

JRB Art at the Elms showcases a photography exhibit through Sept. 30.
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN Published: September 16, 2012

Visitors are given a chance to focus on the varied possibilities of photography — sometimes viewed “as inferior in the hierarchy of the arts” — in a new show at JRB Art at The Elms. New York City curator Julie Maguire said she chose the five women photographers “based on their very elevated artistic practice.”

Showing work at JRB are Norman artists Karen Hayes-Thumann, Cathleen Faubert and Sarah Hearn; Oklahoma City artist Romy Owens, and Austin-based artist Christa Blackwood.

The subjects of the black-and-white photographs from Hayes-Thumann's “Coney Island” series may be realistic, but they are also richly human and possess quite a bit of magic as well. Expressing the joy of simple pleasures are her photos of a child clinging to the pole of a merry-go-round horse, of old people wading into the ocean, and of young people doing handstands on the beach.

Much more ambiguous are Hayes-Thuman's pictures of a partly submerged woman wearing a dark dress and headscarf, and of a tattooed young lady, announcing a race by toy horses without much enthusiasm.

Overtly surreal, by contrast, are the color photos of Faubert, in many of which a single figure could either be leaping or falling. In “Expectation,” a woman seems to almost be bouncing on a cotton-covered bed, in a pink room, her wild hair flying.

Dark, starkly simplified and mysterious, and also surreal, are the numbered tintype photos from the “Houdini” series of Blackwood, who specializes in alternative photographic processes.

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