Posts Tagged “Zach Hoffman”

Zach Hoffman, Associate Curator/PRC Spring 2013 Intern

Unconventional Inventions: Innovative, Unusual, and Alternative Approaches to Photography, previously on display at Endicott College’s Carol Grillo Gallery in the Walter J Manninen Center for the Arts as a Photographic Resource Center satellite exhibit, showcases artists working outside the mainstream who integrate creativity with ingenuity to push the boundaries of the photographic medium. After almost four months of dedication and hard work as the Associate Curator, I am pleased to share with you the struggles and successes I encountered as I worked to make this “unconventional” exhibition a reality.

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By Zach Hoffman, Spring 2013 PRC Intern

On display at the Koppelman Gallery at Tufts University until April 21, Night Hunter by Stacey Steers takes the viewer into the dark and hopeless environment of Victorian life. By blending hand-made video, 3-D sculpture, and collages, she not only deepens the impact of the video but also creates several new access points into the work giving the viewer room to explore the conceptual and technical aspects.

When I entered the space the first thing I noticed was the dark and despondent dollhouse. Each room of the house was well crafted and displayed a typical Victorian style lost in a psychedelic nightmare. Integrated into each room, solid-state video screens played out select clips from the video playing on the far wall. After viewing each room I became more and more interested in the video and was able to place what I saw on the screen into the setting of the house. The dialog between the two made the experience even more pertinent, as I was able to understand the work conceptually and to place the character in a physical realm.

Stacey Steers, Night Hunter House, 2012, mixed media, music and sound by Larry Polansky. Image from Hood Museum of Art.

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Living in small towns all my life, my exposure to galleries and arts administration was limited. After receiving my BFA in Photography from Montana State University, I made the long trek east to continue my education in the Photo MFA program at the Art Institute of Boston. Through AIB, I found this amazing internship with the PRC and it has opened my eyes to a new world of photography and art.

From the beginning, I have been eager to learn all the aspects of working at a nonprofit photographic resource center. The internship started in the fall with a rush working on the annual PRC Auction. From online galleries, social networking, artist correspondence, and installation, I was able to experience all the anxieties and thrills of organizing such a massive event. Even more rewarding than setting up was being able to see the huge variety of work from a countless number of talented photographers.

Once the dust and debris from the auction began to settle, the rest of the semester seemed to fly by. I continued to stay busy working on an array of different projects, each one pushing me towards a more complete view of the PRC. As the semester began to wind down, my enthusiasm to learn increased. To satisfy my thirst for understanding, I agreed to stay on for a second semester.

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By Zach Hoffman, PRC Fall 2012 Intern

The first thing I noticed about this piece was the hand of the artist. Personal choices of content and composition mark this print as a unique view of photographer Carol Golemboski. From her series Psychometry, “They Hook and They Hold” explores themes of loss, anxiety, and doubt through the “hand-made” photographic process.

Carol Golemboski, “They Hook and They Hold,” 2001, Toned Silver Gelatin Print,
Signed Verso, AP, 10 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist.

The evolution of photography has come a long way. Starting in the early 90s, Photoshop has made the direct manipulation of any image possible, allowing photographers full freedom to create.  At the time only professional photographers were able to access this amazing tool, but today it is in the hands and pockets of anyone with a smart phone. There is an endless amount of apps to change any image into a “retro” work of art.

Rejecting the “photoshopped” image, some photographers have begun to return to historical processes and dark room manipulations for creative expression. Although you can reproduce the same manipulations on the computer, photographers like Carol Golemboski rely on the process to produce one-of-a-kind results only found in the dark room.

“They Hook and They Hold” is an elegant and abstract exploration of the tension and fascination of the unknown inherent in all of us. A dark and consuming void fills the image, broken only by sharp contrast of the birdbath and hooks. The objects are not meant to be specific but are intended to invite the viewer to interpret their own meaning. To me the hooks represent the unseen trap set by those with power. There is always a tension or fear of being caught in the snares of daily life.

As a photographer and lover of the hand-made I find so much beauty in work like this. I am always fascinated when an artist uses scratching in the image. They are almost signatures of the artist and reference a sense of history and constant use. They also add to an illusion of depth and materiality in the image.

I could go on and on about this image and what each aspect means to me, but like Golemboski, I want to invite you to interpret the image in your own way. Photographs like these are not only to be looked at but to be a place of personal reflection and understanding.

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When I was twelve, my father brought home an old Macintosh computer from work and instructed me to destroy it. Eager to discover its inner workings, I took to the computer with a hammer and an aggressive curiosity. Later I positioned and posed the dismembered computer parts into sculptural pieces of art to photograph. This was my first experience of destruction as a form of creation. I learned I was able to radically change the meaning and purpose of an already complete object through concept and creativity. Through art I became able to control my world by putting things together in new and interesting ways. Since then I have grown and evolved as an artist and continue to search out new and meaningful ways to express myself.

Today I am still focused on the idea of technology and our relationships with it and how it affects our relationships with each other. The society I have been raised in is more connected than any other culture in history. People can instantly share ideas and emotions with me and it has changed the way I live and communicate. It is an amazing time to be alive. So much good can come from our cultural advancements, but like most things good there is a darker side to technology. I am excited yet fearful of the future and it is this fear that motivates me to continue exploration into the unknown.

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