This weekend, Haesun Han and Eve Lampenfeld’s senior exhibits in the List Gallery incorporate two-dimensional work that takes an image to the brink of abstraction in dynamic and intriguing ways. The exhibit’s opening reception will be today, Friday, May 9, at 4 pm. The gallery will be open Saturday through Monday from 12-5 pm.
Lampenfeld’s idea to work with “drips” evolved from a joint interest in painting and creating “gigantic photographs.” Initially, she worked with the concept of large photographs with dripping paint lines across the canvas. Over the course of the year, Lampenfeld developed her process of working with photo emulsion and developing chemicals to create her large scale images. “It’s a new medium for me,” Lampenfeld explains. “A lot of people haven’t heard of it.”
A striking black and white photograph of a girl in front of trees illustrates Lampenfeld’s intention of creating images that incorporate figures “emerging and disappearing across a canvas.” The girl’s fingers appear starkly articulate in high contrast black and white. The curled fingers echo the scraping tree branches and Lampenfeld’s application of emulsion chemicals replicates the branching effect across the canvas.
“The images are hidden and I want them to be partially shrouded by the backgrounds,” Lampenfeld elaborates. A consequence of this technique is an elusiveness that invites the viewer to study the images more intensely. “One of the challenges [of the process] was being okay with letting go of a lot of the control you have with just photography or just painting.”
As there are not many artists employing drip methods, Lampenfeld has drawn from traditional photographers like Diane Arbus and less traditional artists in photography and mixed media like the Starm twins. Lampenfeld is grateful to her professors at Swarthmore for their support. She first became interested in working with photography while in Italy and afterwards took more advanced photography at Swarthmore. Having developed a grasp of traditional techniques and rules she explained her to desire to “Break away from that, be loose with the chemicals. I’m interested in developing photographs in the so-called ‘wrong way.’”
Han’s work in oil on canvas came out of an interest in reflective surfaces that she began painting during Prof. Randall Exon’s Landscape Painting course. “I really enjoy scrutinizing interesting patterns,” explains Han, who found that an initial interest in surfaces brought her to increasingly abstract representations of three dimensional objects.
“I like to appreciate the abstraction that you can draw from [reflections] and I hope for people to have as much fun look at that and thinking about that as I have.” Han draws her surfaces from a variety of sources including landscape elements, such as the reflecting pond by the arboretum office, or the light play off a bottle. “I try less to emphasize the object and more the light on the object.”
Han has found her knowledge of landscape and figure painting especially valuable in her work. “A lot of this work is not necessarily landscape but it’s like a landscape, with the sort of shapes you find in the natural world.” Han elaborates, “Figure composition really helped me think in terms of the relation of shapes to each other.”
A cool-colored series of glass reflections are among the earliest pieces in the exhibit, inspired by a Blue Bombay Sapphire gin bottle. “I’d been looking at it for a while and it generated all of these really weird shapes and patterns.” The latest addition to her collection, also made up of bottles, makes use of a rich color palette to carry the eye. Reflective surfaces, Han explains, “Are interesting enough that it just kept me going.”
After Swarthmore, Lampenfeld intends to pursue photojournalism and eventually architecture in New York City. Han will be doing biological research in Boston. Han and Lampenfeld’s work will remain in the List through May 12. On May 16, the next senior art exhibits, including the work of Kira Grennan and Anna Ghublikian, will open.
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