Photography exhibit brings light and shadow to Roski

When walking into the Helen Lindhurst Fine Arts Gallery, in the Roski School of Art and Design, viewers are immediately struck by the impact of light in contrast with the brightly lit bare white walls, twelve minimalist photographs fill the walls, each an investigation of the role of light in our perception of the world.

The exhibit is on display at the Helen Lindhurst Fine Arts Gallery from Jan. 15 to Jan. 25. Photo courtesy of Abbie Stellar.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Roski student Abbie Stellar, a senior majoring in art. The installation, titled “Seeing light (or: to see light),” is a series of photographs that encapsulate emotion through seemingly basic but often overlooked aspects of photography: light and color. Her work is captured on film, and each snapshot is permeated with an indescribable feeling unique to each viewer.

“Sometimes I would notice these moments of light and not have my film camera on me,” Stellar said. “So I’d make note of the time that the light was such, using my phone, and come back another day at the same time in order to take the photo with my film camera. It was really a process of looking and observing, and then either coming back again at the same time to catch the light, or happening to stumble upon it at the right time with my camera.”

Moving clockwise through the exhibit, it is unclear whether these works of art are paintings that replicate reality or photographs that perfectly capture moments in time. Stellar is aware that her photographs resemble paintings, and hopes for double takes from viewers.

“I hope that the work shows these painting-like qualities of photography and comments on the beauty of a still moment, as well as how the two are fairly synonymous with one another,” Stellar said. “I want to promote this idea of observation and awareness of one’s surroundings.”

Some find that the emotive qualities Stellar has captured only come from the tip of a brush. The various patterns by unidentifiable objects she has chosen “hark to color field paintings of the Abstract Expressionist movement,” according to Stellar.

In addition to Expressionism, which is centered on the subjectiveness of perception, Stellar has a keen eye in creating an Impressionist feel. Impressionism is focused on an accurate depiction of light and how it affects objects, and there is no doubt that Stellar’s photographs do just that. Lightforms blur at the edge of our peripheries, but they focus when met with hard edges, such as in the three part “Light” photo series (photographs eight, nine, and ten).

The exploration of color sneaks up on observers. At first, viewers are deposited into a monochromatic world: “The fleetingness of it all” (photograph one), is a multi gray incident of horizontals. Viewers ask just the question Stellar was hoping for: “What could this possibly be?”

When “Sonata” (photograph four) dips into the world of browns, viewers see yet another aspect to the beauty of light, and in this case, how it interacts with color.

“The light has so much of a presence on its own, and it takes on these various forms that are like that of moments found in painting that we sometimes overlook by just looking at the picture as a whole,” Stellar said. “I hope that the work emphasizes this idea to be aware of these smaller things.”

Stellar’s exhibit will be on display from Jan. 15 to Jan. 25. Her opening reception is this Thursday from 5-7 p.m.