Every year I buy my wife a jigsaw puzzle for her birthday. It’s fun to watch her put one together, making sense of its disparate pieces as she goes along. It occurred to me while studying Frank Hamrick that his photobooks are like that — handheld, visual puzzles that reveal themselves as we absorb the pictures on their pages.
“I am a photographer, but not just a photographer” is how he described himself when we first met. And that’s what makes his approach unique and pleasurable. Frank’s passion is the handmade artist book, which allows him to marry his imagemaking with his other creative pursuits: writing, papermaking, letterpress, paper staining. The man does it all. By hand, no less. It’s impressive and the results are breathtaking.
There’s a deliberate slowness to the way he works and he wants us to take our time uncovering the meaning in his images too. Hamrick’s aim is to make us think, to contemplate the pieces, and see how they fit together. He’s right: solving a good puzzle is hard work. It’s rewarding too, and that’s the point.
— Fellowship Juror Andy Adams, Creator/Director of FlakPhoto
“Harder than Writing a Good Haiku”
For the steadfast hills
of Whites Creek, Tennessee and
the fight to save them
The phrase “Harder than writing a good haiku” was an analogy I spoke of while guiding my senior photography students as they struggled to edit their BFA portfolios to a slim number of prints that would fit into their allotted wall space, while at the same time still conveying their original concepts.
“Harder than writing a good haiku” is a limited edition artist’s book featuring inkjet reproductions of seventeen tintypes created during the summer of 2016. The hills around Whites Creek, Tennessee inspired the tea stained landscapes appearing on the book’s cover, which is wrapped in handmade paper with the title letterpress printed on the front along with my Old Fan Press logo on the back. The color scheme is limited to shades of brown to remain in step with the tonal range of tintypes.
These photographs, created as 8”x10” and 8”x8” tintypes, were conceived as select moments from stories where the hint of a narrative open to the viewers’ interpretation is more important than the specifics of the characters’ identities or where they are located. The scenes depicted are designed to engage, whether they are totally familiar or curiously exotic, depending on each viewer’s background.
The pieces I make have particular meaning to me, but I understand other people will see them in their own way. My photographs are not necessarily created to illustrate or provide answers. If anything, I would prefer for the images to generate more questions. I do not see them as endpoints, but rather starting places where I give the viewer ideas to ponder and allow room for their imagination to create the rest of the story.
May 12-July 2, 2017
Friday, May 12 5:30-8:00pm
Artist talks begin at 6pm