The photographs of Juror’s Choice winner Michael Donnor are glimpses into his subconscious, fragments from a vivid recurring dream. Both his winning image, In It’s Right Place and another selected image, Which One Is Sane, are part of the larger series, Manifesting Infinity: A Paper Cosmos. This project explores photography’s relationship to truth, time, and space. Donnor’s photographs challenge perception of what is and is not real in a medium invented to record. “Viewers want to believe what a photograph shows, yet my imagery subverts the perception a viewer has for the medium of photography. It reveals to the viewer, there exists no relic of truth in a photograph.”
In It's Right Place
Donnor prefers to forgo pre-visualized imagery and to instead allow his artistic process unfold organically. The first step often begins with a phrase or title and the accompanying images develop intuitively. His process is non-linear: each step is disjointed and unrelated to the next. After an image is made, Donnor spends considerable time reflecting on what he is trying to convey through it. He then makes a series of marks directly on to the negative to demonstrate the subtext of the piece. A final image is then printed in silver gelatin, heavily toned with selenium, and coated with beeswax.
Now in his last year of Lesley University College of Art and Design’s MFA program, Donnor reflects on what his formal photography education has done for his artistic development.
Photographic education develops the theoretical and historical framework for an artist to understand their work. For an artist to continually advance and be an articulate voice within their time, the larger contextual understanding of what photography was, its relation within the visual art cannon, and what a photograph does, is paramount. I also believe though, our artwork is smarter than us. Just create, react, and respond intuitively. Education allows an artist to realize what they just did.
With a few album covers and other commercial projects on his resume, Donnor continues to seek these outlets for his work. He pursues a unitary vision for both his personal and commercial work. In expanding his audience outside of the fine art world, he creates commercial images that are true to his ideas and processes.
But of Course I'd Like to Stay
Donnor is open-minded and enthusiastic about the future of his work and his artistic career. He views success as being able to continue to create work that is “simultaneously aware, articulate, and completely grateful” to its place in the world.
Grayscale is on view through November 30, 2013.