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.
Hearn offers us round, square and horizontally hung, rectangular, intentionally marred “Weather Observations” of cloud patterns, printed in muted colors, in her series of that title. A native Oklahoman, Hearn said in a statement the series attempts to investigate the “complex relationship between photography, scientific information and representation.”
Scores of stacked pink, magenta and white rectangles add up to abstract, almost meditational compositions, delicately stitched together with red thread, like a minimalist quilt, in a new series by Owens.
Owens said compositions in the series, collectively called “The Keanues,” were named after the many movie roles of actor Keanu Reeves.
Maguire, who is director of the Brett Weston Archive, will give a talk at 6 p.m. Thursday. The five-woman show is recommended viewing during its run through Sept. 30.
— John Brandenburg