I drove to downtown Phoenix tonight for a friend’s art opening called Gray Area at Step Gallery. A BFA honor’s thesis exhibition centralized around abuse by Haylee Schiavo. I was taken aback walking into a space where so much celebration as well as healing was taking place.
Haylee photographed a young woman named Sally who became the central figure and story in the images. This woman had been through a lot. I could tell this from the tone in the artist statement, but Sally was there; standing and confronting pictures in the gallery. This was her life to be told in photographs, so I could tell she was anxious. She looked at the photographs for what seemed like several minutes at a time and even asked Haylee to give her a few more minutes before taking them down.
I knew photographs had power, but seeing someone react to them as other photographers would was something that was out of the ordinary for me. This made me look closer at the work and how the photographs spoke to one another.
Scans of old family photos mixed with portraiture of Sally through Schiavo’s perspective filled the white walls with something more. This was a way to understand and process abuse by taking photographs on a journey that has affected them both…but it has also brought them together.
I made my way to downtown Chandler to see the Linda Ingraham: 25 Years of Mixed Media Photography exhibit tat Vision Gallery. I had never been to this gallery before and the space is very open, bright and inviting. It’s a very attractive space and location. I’m biased in enjoying parts of this show, being a photographer, but I was interested in how she created a diverse amount of work that still reverted back to a way of making art that I understand.
Linda Ingraham studied mainly in New Mexico where she earned a BFA in painting and a BA in both Art History and French. This variety of degrees shows in her vast amount of work displayed, but also includes a love that stemmed from all degrees, photography. I see her love for paper in the piece “Learning to Fly” where the edges are torn in a print maker fashion. Walking through the gallery, she has five or six different bodies of work and samples from them.
In one of her statements she says, “I approach photography like painting. I am interested in creating the photograph rather than just taking it.” I love this! This is true for all photographers. We’re not taking images…we’re making them. Another piece of work I enjoyed was called “Escaping Gravity,” which was hyped in advertising for the event.
Some thoughts given in her statement make this clear: “Birds are ethereal yet elusive and I use them in my artwork to refer to many things: ‘Yearning’ plays upon the feeling of wanting and desiring something that is just out of reach.” I thought that this was a beautiful way to describe such a feeling that is almost nostalgic. Since it’s a private collection, I was not able to take any images and the pictures online don’t do the work justice.