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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thanksgiving in Riverdale

My being a photo-artist is very surprising to some, given the limitations of my eye-sight, so, I'm using this posting on my blog as an opportunity to offer some information about how I've adapted cameras and darkroom equipment to create some of the images that are posted on my web-site and to offer some of my perspective on photography.

My first formal endeavor as a photo-artist was a number of years ago when I pursued many aspects of Black and White photography. Much of the back story on these efforts can be heard in the interview with Karen Ingenthron Lewis that I spoke about in my January 6th posting, where I mentioned that it can be heard on my web-site.

Since Karen singled out certain photographic works of mine (prints and greeting cards that are on my web-site), to discuss for interview purposes, and you can hear about them on the link posted on this blog or go to my web-site and download it, I will blog here about a few of the images she did not cover. I must confess that I do not like to talk about how I've created a print or why the composition has been rendered in a certain way in a given print. I feel too much information spoils the magic of not knowing. I think having knowledge of many specific details of a given work of art can interfere with the relationship a viewer has with the art work. Consider the photo posted below:

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @

We know there is an elderly woman seated at a table. Is it for dinner? Brunch? 

We can assume it is probably not breakfast; because candles have been lit, and on the opposite side of the candles someone is drinking what appears to be wine from a goblet (though you can have wine at breakfast or you can drink juice from a goblet and perhaps the candles are lit because the electricity has gone out).

We know it is probably in someone's home because of the detail near the ceiling, but it could be taking place at a restaurant made to look like a home. 

We don't know anything for certain, and by not knowing, we can create our own story — until we notice the title of the image - which viewers often use to search for a clue. 

Because this image was being considered for publication, the jurors of the competition insisted that I give it a title. I ultimately received the honor (hopefully for the print, not the title).

The title I gave it  was Thanksgiving in Riverdale. By giving it this title, the viewer knows the occasion, but this is more information than I wanted to offer. 

Perhaps I could've called it Celebrating, and since we all have friends, and have sat at common tables for a meal in honor of a celebration, this title might have let the viewer create the time and place of the occasion in their mind, and own the celebration. After all, the graininess of the photo allows for enough distortion of details to permit viewers to fill in their own information.

So there you have it, my reason for not wanting to go into too many details surrounding a piece of my art-work: I prefer the idea that I am stretching someone’s imagination; but often publications, or gallery curators, and even friends, want explanations or titles, which I feel can be limiting.

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