Houston, TX - Houston Center for Photography announces three dynamic exhibitions with work from seasoned artists to the up-and-coming generation of photographers. Join us to celebrate the opening receptions of France Scully Osterman and Mark Osterman’s exhibition Skylight Nocturnes, and the two exhibitions Sprawl and The Red Chair by COLLABORATIONS V, HCP’s high school outreach program on Friday night, May 2 from 6-8pm. Mark Osterman, France Scully Osterman and participating high school students will be in attendance. The exhibitions will remain on view in the HCP galleries from May 3 – June 1, 2008.
Mark Osterman and France Scully Osterman present four different series that embrace the wet-collodion process at inception, culminating in the exhibition Skylight Nocturnes.
France Scully Osterman’s Sleepseries engages the viewer as voyeur, observing the artist’s friends, acquaintances and loved ones as they sleep. “It takes a certain amount of trust and confidence to allow someone to document you asleep,” say the artist. Inviting her subjects into her studio in the morning (sans coffee) the artist settles the sleeper into a bed, encouraging them to drift back to sleep. It’s then that the magic and challenge of wet-plate collodion photography takes place. The artist creates the negative from scratch just before exposing it in the camera lens, and the negative is then immediately developed. She continues the dance of making negatives and composing her images as long as her subjects continue to sleep.
In her related series Bed, the artist has removed the “sleeper” and is focused on the bed. “For me a bed is tactile, sensual, sexual; our most intimate place.” The draping of the bed sheets and the resulting forms and undulations of light are reminiscent of Roman-Greco sculptures, classic forms that capture an air of timelessness. An artist, teacher and guest scholar at George Eastman House, France also manages the Scully & Osterman skylight studio in Rochester, New York, where she teaches and conducts private tutorials.
For twenty years, Mark Osterman performed a traveling medicine show by gaslight, and the series Free Show Tonight is a visual representation of one of these shows. “Made on plates of stained glass, each image is permanent but fragile and unique like the fragment of time they represent,” notes the artist. His ambrotypes embody the spirit of the stage and environment of this traveling show, probing the viewer to imagine what sorts of alchemy took place and perhaps what the sounds of the live shows might have been like. “The sounds are there if you look carefully. The hiss of the gaslights and the sounds of the crickets are present in every image.”
Coinciding with the artist’s intimate knowledge of photographic history and image making, his second series Artifacts of the Process pay homage to the year’s spent researching. Examining plates, papers, machinery and writings, the inspired series “include vintage equipment used in the days when photographers made everything from scratch and applied these coatings by hand.”
Mark Osterman is a respected historian, considered a modern master of wet-plate collodion photography and currently serves as Process Historian for the Advanced Residency Program for Photograph Conservation at George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY.
To learn more about their process and work directly with the artists, HCP is offering an Ambrotype Workshop as part of a master series of workshops this spring. Join Mark Osterman and France Scully Osterman on Saturday, May 3 from 9am-5pm. Students will produce a self-portrait ambrotype using a 19th century portrait camera and lens. For more information and to register visit our Calendar section under May on our website at www.hcponline.org.
HCP’s Collaborations V programbrings together 18 high school students from nine Houston area schools in a group exhibition of their photographic work. Now in its fifth year, Collaborations is a unique opportunity for young artists of various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to thrive on the interactions with other participants, gain knowledge about building a well-designed exhibition, and successfully work with other artists from different backgrounds, education and photographic styles. This year’s student-designed themes are Sprawland The Red Chair. Participating schools are the Jack Yates High School, The Kinkaid School, Jersey Village High School, Lamar High School, Episcopal High School, Reagan High School, St. John’s School, High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Bellaire High School.
Sprawlis an exhibition about Houston, a city with borders that are continually expanding. The exhibition is a visual exploration of the people, the landmarks, the atmosphere; essentially what makes Houston, Houston. It is a photographic diary of 18 different views of a city and the individual relationships each photographer has with the environment he or she inhabits.
Also on display will be a second collaborative project, The Red Chair. This experiment highlights the stylistic preferences of each Collaborations V participant; each student uniquely photographed a red chair purchased from the 99 Cent Store.
A full color catalog of this year’s projects will be available during the exhibition.
This exhibition is sponsored with generous support from H-E-B and an anonymous donor.