Danny Conant / E. E. McCollum Exhibit Opens

Multiple Exposures Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibit of new work by Danny Conant and E. E. McCollum. French Impressions  by Danny Conant and The Shadow Series by E. E. McCollum will be on display in the gallery from September 2 through October 12, 2014. Please come and join the artists for a reception on Sunday, September 7 from 2-4pm.


French Impressions Danny Conant

© Danny Conant

© Danny Conant

Although I love to photograph, I don’t take a lot of pictures. Maybe it’s the hunt or search for me.  I wander and look and if the scene won’t let me go I’ll bring that one back to think about later. Sometimes I use my iphone and then I can alter reality as I see it.

The title “French Impressions” came from an exhibition I recently saw at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris.  My French impressions came from Paris and the Dordogne area.  I found parts of scenes, a remembrance of something that has gone before or an embellishment of a pleasant experience.  There is a glimpse of someone who reminds me of a dear friend gone.  The Eiffel Tower embellished because it took me four trips to Paris to get the nerve to ride to the top.  Three chairs said it’s time to just sit and think.

The wall pieces are prints from my camera and from my iphone. Most images are manipulated in the camera or from computer programs and printed on Epson watercolor paper with archival inks.  Next I added a bit of pastel to the image and then glued it to a wooden panel.  Several coats of encaustic medium were added to finish it.  Encaustic medium is a combination of beeswax and resin. I love working with the wax. I like to touch it, smell it and know that it is an excellent protection of the printed photograph.

 

The Shadow Series - E. E. McCollum

© E. E. McCollum

© E. E. McCollum

For me, shooting the nude figure in the studio is like playing in a small jazz ensemble.  Just as a jazz quartet makes music from the voices of the instruments and the passage of time, the studio gives us space, light and the body with which to make images.  Obviously, other elements can be added, but in this project, I wanted to keep it simple, to play with the basic elements – a jazz trio instead of a big band. 

How do you combine the available elements?  Space: I shot the models from the top of a tall ladder.  This perspective obscures orientation . . . is the figure flying, floating, or pinned to the wall? And we see the body in ways we aren’t used to seeing it, foreshortened, dimensional one moment, and planar the next.   Light: I used a strobe with a bare bulb for this series, a harsh and, some might say, unforgiving light.  Of course, this gives us the distinct shadows of the series title but it also gives us the texture of the models’ skin and the rough surface of the studio floor both with all their flaws.  And the body:  Nude, the body becomes the medium for a range of expression . . . isolation, repose, exuberance, connection.  I asked the models to play with the notions of shadow and form as we worked and we quickly found that the shadows that emerged naturally from the light and the pose were much more interesting than any shadows we tried intentionally to create.

I have found working with these simple elements endlessly fascinating as I have made the images you see.  The studio is a magical place even when stripped to its basic elements.  But then, I was always a Dave Brubeck fan . . . 

Refresh

MEG member Danny Conant shares some suggestions for getting out of a photographic rut. 

Most of us have had the feeling at times of being stuck or stale in our photographic life. It’s no fun working on something that doesn’t inspire you or hammering away at a piece that you secretly know you are never going to like.  So we need to refresh and get out of that unproductive rut.

Over the years I have found some things that have given me a jump-start to pulling out of the rut. If you are feeling uninspired, make time to visit a gallery or museum or studio of an artist.  I say make time, not take time, because you will say, “I don’t have time.”  I don’t have it either, so I have to make it by perhaps giving up something else.  


Sometimes it’s better to see a painting exhibit than one of photography.  You may come away with some new thoughts after seeing what is driving that particular painter or sculptor or printmaker.

Other suggestions are to do something different even if it is a little uncomfortable and/or take a class to learn something new or challenging. Recently, I took a writing workshop in Tuscany, even though I know nothing about real writing. The first day I struggled along as I wrote the assignment. While that alone wasn’t comfortable, an even more terrifying part came when I had to read what I had written to all of the other accomplished writers. The good news? The earth didn’t open up and swallow me and everyone was too polite to ask why was I in that class. 
 

(c) Danny Conant

(c) Danny Conant

(c) Danny Conant

(c) Danny Conant

At the end of the day, I was fine with the whole process. After five days of work, I came away with a new feeling for words. And while I still love my visuals, one day I’m going to put them both together. 

Another favorite inspirational help is belonging to a couple of small low-key groups of like-minded photographers who get together a few times a year to share ideas and work.

Finally, when an image is just not responding to me after a reasonable amount of time, I simply let it go.  There will be other images.  


Overall, I think my main tool for getting out of a rut is my lack of fear of failure.  If I am afraid of failing, I won’t try anything new or push my boundaries at all.

Danny's work can be seen daily at Multiple Exposures Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA.