Past Exhibitions

Human Nature / Referent / In Transit

October 4 - December 10, 2008

Martha Madigan's Human Nature sun-prints are created when human forms and/or plants block or filter direct sunlight as it falls on large, light sensitive, photographic paper. Her technique is slow, introspective, and painterly when compared to traditional photography. She describes her work as “visual poetry,” and incorporates Eastern philosophy, art history, and her life experiences into her work. The Human Nature series reflects the power and presence of the natural world, the passing of time, the transient nature of life, and the obscure energies (good or evil) that propel and guide us. Her vision suggests transcendentalism, intuitive understandings that go beyond our experiential or intellectual knowledge. The Classical Greek philosopher, Plato viewed the sun as a complex symbol representing sight, insight, energy, growth, truth, the ideal, and spiritual transcendence. All of these metaphors are active as our bodies, minds, and spirits evolve. Madigan’s process represents artistic meditations and the finished photo-collages become spiritual icons that express nature’s potential, connections, and mysteries.

“The radiance of the sun as the essence of creation becomes a direct experience within the work. The sun reveals the truth of human nature – what we seek dwells quietly within the core of our beings,” writes Madigan. “The exquisite form of a newborn baby embodies this teaching with the sweetness of absolute trust. The sublime perfection of a young woman’s body with all its sensuality and mystery suggests hope, creation, and the vastness of human potential. May my work be a boat that carries me safely down a relentless river of time across the ocean of worldliness.”

Madigan is a professor and chairperson for the department of photography, Tyler School of Art/Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and Temple University, Rome. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions across the nation and around the world. Her works are in art collections at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and California Museum of Photography, to name a few. She has received numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship, Leeway Grant for Excellence in Photography, and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship; and she is represented by Jeffery Fuller Fine Art, Ltd., Philadelphia, and Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York.

Joel Whitaker's Referent photographs include compositions that are beautiful, abstract, and surreal. He starts with original family snapshots and then creates a photo-metamorphosis by marking the surfaces, adding studio light, and then re-photographing. Some images present recognizable family members and other obscure the figures by drawing, painting, puncturing, and scratching the surface. His portfolio includes some impressions that suggest luminous or spiritual light and others are psychologically dark and foreboding. His chaotic lines and marks can be compared to abstract expressionist or action paintings. Conversely, in Whitaker’s Junk photographs, he takes the opposite approach: Here he transforms junkyard cars and their chaotic rubble into beautiful photo-sculptures. The results of the crash – broken glass, rusted metal, chipped paint, old cloths, and wet magazines – are juxtaposed against lush green vegetation, blue skies and white clouds.

Whitaker is an associate professor and chair of visual arts at the University of Dayton in Ohio. He traveled to China the summer as part of an artist exchange program. He has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibition. In 2006, his work was selected for Photography Now/One Hundred Portfolios – An International Survey of Contemporary Photography at Wright State University. His works are in collections at Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Otterbein College, Westerville, OH; Davidson College, Davidson, NC; the Schiffler Foundation, Greenville, OH; the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, FL; the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. He was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant, two Montgomery County Individual Artist Fellowships, and four University of Dayton Fellowships.

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