Juxtaposing old and new, “Enhanced!” the current exhibit in the USF Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), features a wide range of photographs detailing imaging techniques throughout time.
The exhibit, described as “a cocktail party with artworks instead of people,” features work from the expansive collection of Dr. Robert Drapkin. With an emphasis on alteration, the collection is made up of pieces ranging in date from the mid-1800s to present day.
Each piece in the gallery endured some sort of manipulation, from contemporary approaches like Photoshop to more technical approaches such as daguerreotype, a means of producing a processed image on a metallic surface. Whether the approach to alteration is more classic or contemporary, each piece presents an undeniable
“It’s great to be able to see the differences as well as the similarities between the two bodies of work, the vintage and the contemporary,” said Alexa Favata, deputy director of the USF Institute for Research in Art.
Taking a more modern approach, artist Yamini Nayar constructs vividly complex displays using paper, wood, plasters and other materials, then photographs these scenes, creating stimulating imagery.
While Nayar hand-constructs and photographs each piece, she doesn’t deny that her work is enhanced with the use of Photoshop, much like other photographers in the gallery, to give her work a clean polish.
Nayar has a unique position with CAM this year, as she is the guest artist in its annual Artists in Schools Program. Now in its 15th year, the program features a different artist each year who presents his or her work to art students at Blake High School in Tampa.
Nayar will also visit the classes and provide critiques of the students’ work, and the following week, the students will visit CAM.
“This gives students and faculty a chance to see the artist’s work in context and provide the students with an opportunity to visit the College of Arts and to see USF,” Favata said.
Taking an alternative approach to the idea of photographic manipulation, artist Debbie Grossman took inspiration from photographer Russell Lee, who documented American life for the U.S. Farm Security Administration in 1940.
In the series, titled “My Pie Town,” Grossman experimented with ambiguity in gender and altered the photographs, utilizing a more direct approach.
“She’s taken all of the males out of the photos; you can look at the Russell Lee photos and these would have been males — a cowboy roping the cattle, a husband,” Favata said. “She’s using as close a setting as she could have possibly gotten to the Russell photos and then she recreated the scenes using female characters.”
Aside from the “Enhanced!” exhibit, CAM is also hosting “Oscar Muñoz: Sedimentaciones.” The Muñoz gallery is a commentary on the various political, cultural and social violence occurring in Colombia since the 1980s.
The exhibit features three projected images of disappearing and reappearing photographs on a photo developing table, a testament to the disappearance of so many individuals and the threat these disappearances play in the lives of many Colombians today.
The exhibits, on display through March 7, will hold a tour with Curator Noel Smith today at noon, as well as various other events throughout the duration of the exhibition.