Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Portfolio Showcase Artists: Dahae Kim

            Separation, whether social, emotional, or intellectual, is the central theme of Dahae Kim’s photographic series Ghost Touch. At age 23, she is aware of her own self-discovery process, and incorporates it into her art. It is this examination that Kim attempts to convey in Ghost Touch. “There’s a disconnect‒a separation between the mind and the heart. This series is about bridging the gap between what I know and what I feel, facing headlong the truth of my own emotions. I wanted to discover me.”

                                         Seeking Hope

            Themes of discovery and distance run through Kim’s images, expressed by layers of texture that obscure the subjects of her images. In Seeking Hope, a woman is visible through the textured fog. Is she separated from the viewer, or the viewer from her? This ambiguity is the centerpiece of Kim’s self-exploration.
Kim takes an organized approach to creating her images, but recognizes that she doesn’t always start with a fixed vision.

I go into the studio kind of the same way an artist would go into a figure drawing session. You bring the sketchbook, the charcoal, the pencils, and the erasers. You know there’ll be a model. But you can’t really start until the model is in front of you to transfer visual thought into a tangible result. I go in with supplies, a camera, lights, fabrics, props, and a model, but what comes out is up for grabs.
            Kim also finds herself inspired by both her religion and the beauty of the world, but not in a literal sense. “I do not stick crucifixes in my picture, nor do I attempt to ‘evangelize’ in my work. The color red isn’t used for atonement, and trees are not symbols of faith.” Because emotion serves as a constant theme in her work, the inspiration she finds comes from an emotional place. Kim believes that “[t]he work of an artist illuminates the character of that particular person.”

                                 Being Watched

Images such as Lost or Being Watched are both highly personal and visually disorienting, with inexplicable gauze obscuring the subject almost completely. Despite her work being intensely personal, Kim nonetheless recognizes that she and her images are part of the broader contemporary photographic community.

Our art functions to speak and provoke thought, and we hope that maybe, just maybe, a word made visual can do just that. This generation of artists has that hope, a pure and desperate yearning to create in the same fashion as one thinks, where the point of translation becomes non-existent. I fit in there somewhere, I hope.
            In the end Kim is not overtly concerned with the traditional markers of success. “I’m still trying to understand what a successful life looks like because money and riches, fame and glory all fade away.” She creates ‒ and continues to create ‒ to inspire herself and others. “That’s enough success for me, that people are moved to hope, even in places of confusion, and in the places of beauty, that there’d be hope.”


Dahae Kim’s series Ghost Touch was on view in The Kiernan Gallery from June 6 to July 14, 2012. It can be seen on our website under the Portfolio Showcase link.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Announcement: New Call For Entry!

The Unreal
Deadline: September 18, 2012
Exhibition: October 31 - December 1
Opening Reception: November 2

Our dreams combine the ordinary and the seemingly nonsensical, where rules of physics and logic do not apply. Artists exploring this realm depict remembered fantasies or create new ones from their waking imaginations. Their work is a distortion of reality, making everyday objects and environments alien and magical. In photography, optical illusions and modern digital tools have allowed artists to create new visual worlds that blur the line between the real and fantastic. For The Unreal, The Kiernan Gallery seeks images that explore the surreal and otherworldly.

For this exhibition, juror Ken Rosenthal will select up to 30 images for display in the main gallery, and up to an additional 40 to be included in the online gallery. All images will be reproduced in an exhibition catalogue available for purchase. A Juror's Choice and Director's Choice will also be announced.

About the Juror

Ken Rosenthal received a BA in still photography from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993. His work is represented by KLOMPCHING Gallery, Etherton Gallery, Gerald Peters Gallery, Dolby Chadwick Gallery, and De Santos Gallery. Rosenthal's photographs are in many public and private collections internationally including but not limited to Southwest and Mexican Photography Collection, which recently established a major collection of his work.

Since 2002 his work has been featured in more than 150 solo and group exhibitions internationally. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Centro Cultural Recoleta, El Cabildo de la Ciudad de Cordoba, Espacio Foto, Etherton Gallery, Wall Space Gallery, De Santos Gallery, and KLOMPCHING Gallery. Rosenthal's first monograph,Ken Rosenthal: Photographs 2001-2009 was released in 2011. His work can be viewed here

For more information and to see submission guidelines visit: www.kiernangallery.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Portfolio Showcase Artists: Rebecca Drolen

            Mass media today dictates much of our conception of beauty. Celebrities and models are held up as examples of perfection, which society emulates. Rebecca Drolen was interested in this kind of trend-following, causing her to examine her own values and ideals relating to beauty, particularly concerning hair.

As I thought about and studied the broader significance that hair has in our culture as well as mythology, I was really intrigued by the difference between hair that is “good” and can symbolize strength and sexuality, and hair that is grotesque and people remove, pretending it does not exist.
                             Hair Tonic
         The result of this exploration is her series Hair Pieces. Both playful and dark, Drolen’s project explores the arbitrary and contradictory nature of traditional beauty advice. One of the best examples of this is the image Longer Lashes. “We are told through advertising that females need to maximize the length of their eyelashes, but how long is too long before this hair crosses the line between beautiful and terrible?” Drolen’s main goals are to construct a narrative and create characters, frequently using herself as the model and subject.

                                         Longer Lashes


         All the images in Hair Pieces were shot in Drolen’s home, most of them “against one gray wall.” Drolen calls her images “obsessively simple” and enjoys the challenge of weaving a story “using as few elements within the frame as possible.” Haircut, in particular, is an example of this simplistic storytelling as it reflects the feeling many people have regarding their hairstyles while invoking the story of Rapunzel. Shot straight-on with medium format black and white film, these images are then scanned and digitally edited in order to maximize control over the final prints.


         Drolen hopes to create a small set of salt prints from this series, presented with actual hair. This plan taps into her interest in handmade art and a taste for the  bizarre. “For me, this can reference the sentimental period of Victorian mourning jewelry and art, which has been a large source of inspiration for the work.”


         And though it can be easy for an artist who is inspired by the old and antique to mimic that style in their work, Drolen uses her art to reflect upon the feelings and aesthetics of our contemporary world while also telling a story. “I think that the art world will always have room for storytellers. I hope to make work that analyzes modern culture with a language of the past.” To connect with her audience is Drolen’s dream for her photography: “I feel most successful when people can engage with, laugh at, or just generally have a personal response to my work.” With such amusing yet intelligent images, this series can certainly be deemed a success.

Rebecca Drolen’s series Hair Pieces is on view at The Kiernan Gallery from July 18 - August 25, 2012.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Portfolio Showcase Artists: Nikki Segarra

Having a family history in New England dating back to the 17th Century, Nikki Segarra was eager to explore her past when she moved to Massachusetts after growing up in the South.  Grabbing her camera, she set out to explore the coastline where her mother grew up. “I wanted to construct my own experiences within these same locations, perhaps as a way to make my mark on the familial map.” From there, Segarra’s project expanded into an investigation of her maternal ancestry, eventually becoming the series entitled A Mariner’s Descendant.

Widow's Walk

I began to use historical documents as reference points for my locations.  What I found were several patterns that seemed to repeat: a namesake, the life of a mariner, and particularly reoccurring documentations of ancestors who have drowned.  It was this idea of patterns, whether deemed coincidence or fate, that I wanted to explore.
These patterns revolve around distance and loss, and Segarra imbued her portfolio with the stoicism of New England sailors. The simple compositions and empty landscapes suggest past lives filled with hardship.


While many artists would be content to tell a story such as this, for Segarra it was important that this series to also have a personal connection to herself and her family. “For this series it was important for me to be the subject. This active role is what emotionally connected me with this work. I’m interested in the idea of inherited behaviors or thoughts and the series became a personal investigation of that idea.”

The layers of meaning that result are an interesting exploration into Segarra’s perceived family history in terms of fears, such as her own admitted phobia of water, and the common actions of her ancestors in this coastal environment. As can be seen in images like Failure to Communicate, the end result presents a dialogue between Segarra and her New England roots.

A Hopeful Transport

This series was created by salt printing, one of the early methods of photographic printing. Despite the antique process, Segarra has found that she is part of the growing movement of photographers returning to early chemical methods. “I think some artists are becoming more interested in photography as a handmade object and are really embracing the imperfections that are the very nature of alternative processes.”

Each of Seggara’s images are unique and handmade. She views this as an achievement in itself, and hopes to continue to make work she is happy with while building a dedicated and appreciative following.

Eel Pond

Nikki Segarra’s series, A Mariner’s Descendant, by will be on view at The Kiernan Gallery July 18 - August 25, 2012.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Portfolio Showcase Artists: Cynthia Henebry

Children are perennially popular subjects in photography, both in family albums and fine art. For Cynthia Henebry, what started out as a collection of family photographs of her children and their friends has evolved into a charming and intelligent portfolio exploring the experience of childhood itself. “Children have a remarkable ability to be in the present that I find transfixing, and photographing them helps me to engender this ability in myself. I realized that my compulsion to do this work came from somewhere else, too – that there are certain children, and certain scenes, that hold my interest more.”

                                         Sofia and the Conch Shell

Henebry says that it is her instinct that drives her shoots: “I know exactly when I see a moment that I want to get and I have become quite relentless in moving in for it. The success of this relentlessness is evidenced in the honesty present in her images, from the laid-back satisfaction in Eloise on the Phone to the palpable disappointment in Easter Sunday.

                                         Eloise on the Phone

                                         Easter Sunday

But this project is not only about the children; Henebry is also discovering things about herself through this process.

"For whatever series of simple or complicated reasons, I have very few memories of my own childhood, and it remains an intriguing mystery to me. I realized that I was trying to understand what might have happened to me, and also what happens to the children in my life now, and that the camera could help me do this."
This desire for exploration is made very clear in whimsical images such as School Picnic, which show a fascination with the simple joys of life.

                                         School Picnic

Henebry finds it difficult to recognize herself and her work as a part of the art world. “I only started thinking about myself as having any kind of place in contemporary art until about a year ago.” But increased recognition has had its perks. “The thing I have loved most about achieving some recognition as a photographer is getting to connect with other photographers and talk about what we love most.” Even so, Henebry recognizes that her most important critic is herself.

"Accolades from others feel great in the moment, but usually within an hour or a day I can talk myself out of feeling satisfied about it. The good feeling of making a great photograph lasts much, much longer for me, and perhaps that’s one reason why I’m addicted to making photographs."
                                         Inside Window

Cynthia Henebry’s portfolio, Waking State, is on view at The Kiernan Gallery as part of our Portfolio Showcase through July 14.