4 Photographers' Visions


November 8 - December 24, 2002

4 Photographers' Visions featured a collection of black & white photographs from four artists. The images in Negative Impact by Steve Lewin were created as handmade negatives by using different liquids and textures on 5x7 glass plates. Melanie Seward's work, Environmental Portraits featured portraiture in the studio and nature. Jansen Sterba's work Irrelevants sought out beauty in things often overlooked. He created his "macro" images by combining a 50mm lens with Tiffen magnification filters. The work of John Seward Figurative Distortions consisted of distortions and new interpretations of the nude figure made possible by the utilization of a mirror. 

“In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely   impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said it still remains a matter of degree and ability.”

- Edward Steichen, Photographer and first Curator of Photography for the MOMA in New York

"No one would argue that technically, we are living in the digital age. The use of the digital camera and manipulation via the computer has changed forever the way in which we can realize photographs almost approaching the speed of light (pun intended). In the past year alone, we have seen the advent of mega-pixel cameras, groundbreaking software for giga-bursting PC’s, and super-sized ink jet printers capable of producing 44” wide images on archival papers with dye-based inks. Fine art photographers worldwide are embracing these processes and every gallery in every city internationally has begun to exhibit the end product of their efforts. The result is, Mr. Steichen’s century old proclamation has never rung truer.    

How we ultimately judge art may be reduced to ‘a matter of degree and ability’ which is simply another way by which we judge its success or failure. As a fine art photographer first, and a critic somewhere far down the line, I would be the last to condemn new technologies. Photo historians recognize the fact that the development of the medium as an art has been inextricably linked to technical developments. Yet I admit that I have been cautious in studying developments of the last couple of years. I remain suspect of anything that attempts to push aside the past for what appears to be an overwhelming desire to save time and limit the learning (craft) curve. I question the aesthetic losses and the idea of reducing things to a convenient common denominator. Creating art after all, has never been about having fewer choices.    

How then does the idea of ‘degree and ability’ apply to the art brought together for this exhibition? Answer; this work is about nothing less than degree and ability. The unique vision of the four individual photographers whose art is shown here literally justifies a need to maintain what might be called in these days and times, a photorealistic approach to their medium. I cannot imagine that any one of these photographers would opt for the ability to make their images in less time or without having explored and experimented with a variety of methods and materials. In fact, the creative process as an act unto itself is a large part of what we are looking at in their work."

- Jon Burris, photographer

Steve Lewin, Melanie Seward, John Seward & Jansen Sterba