Monday, May 30, 2011

REVIEW: "Photo Journaling" Katrina Mojzesz photography at Tunbridge ArtSpace

by Dian Parker


For the past 14 years Katrina Mojzesz has taken a solo camping trip every August. In the current Tunbridge Library art show are her digital photographs from these journeys accompanied by various journal entries, along with artifacts she has collected along the way; pine cones, rocks she’s labeled Bryce, Arches, Newfoundland, and bottles of sand from different beaches. There are no people in the photographs and the viewer often has no idea where the picture was taken and sometimes not even what the photograph portrays.

The center piece of the show is her framed photograph "Imitating Nature", 42" x 23", prominently displayed on a large wall of the main room. The picture is mysterious, apparently showing the trunks of trees standing in the snow with the sun casting soft light on the white ground. The details are so blurred and blended, forced out of focus, that one doesn’t know if the tops of the trees are hovering in the clouds or upside down like the baobabs in "Le Petite Prince". The snow could just as well be mist, a pale lavender shimmer silhouetting the burnt sienna of the tree bark. From a distance this could be a drawing done with pastels.

Another of her abstracted photographs is the beautiful "Yellow Slide", 4" x 6", a small photo inset into a black frame without glass. It isn’t clear what the photo is, just streaks of yellow

and green lines, another example of what makes artistic photography intriguing. "Water Flames" 4" x 6", in intense magenta and Prussian blue is another striking "abstract", as well as "Division of Labor", 5.5" x 7.5", which won the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art award, with its streaks of purple, yellow and black, like pouring rain.

Some of her realistic photos are luscious an d sharply defined. "Hopeful" shows the top of a young Sequoia silhouetted against the towering trunk of a mature giant Sequoia. Sunlight filters through the young one, bright green against the ancient red trunk of the grandfather tree. A moving tribute to these majestic trees. "Milkweed" and "Red Rocks," 4" x 6", are realistic with lush color contrasts, free standing in their black frames. Also realistic yet stark and eery are "Solo Adventure" and "Moonset", the colors rich and deep.

It would have served the photographs better to have had labels telling where the photos were taken and defining the subject matter, offering a reference point to what one is seeing. In spite of a number of striking images some of the abstracts appeared to just be out of focus by mistake, and several of the realistic photographs were typical travel photos.

Photography is problematic as an art medium especially with the advent of digital cameras. Everyone is taking picture s and can experiment with the different possibilities. To have an art show of photographs the photographer needs either to have unusual subjects like Diane Arbus’ "freaks" or to use costly equipment like Ansel Adams’ large-format cameras that create his stunning high resolution nature photographs. Katrina Mojzesz’ photography has a hook; it is her travel journal along with her journal writing and travel artifacts. Memory keepers. Just make sure the memories are memorable and unique for an art show. The Tunbridge show runs till July 8, 2011.