November 1, 2009

Photographic Portraiture in Philadelphia

Gallery 339 presents PERSONAL VIEWS: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAHIC PORTRAITURE IN PHILADELPHIA. This Photo Exhibition in Philadelphia presents a range of approaches to photographic portraiture, both in style and print-making techniques. The seven artists who comprise the show are: Justyna Badach, Rita Bernstein, Jessica Todd Harper, Andrea Modica, Nadine Rovner, Sarah Stolfa and Zoe Strauss.

With Personal Views, Gallery 339 presents a sample of the outstanding photographic portraiture that is currently coming out of Philadelphia. While the city has always counted talented portrait photographers among its artistic ranks, the number of local photographers receiving national and international recognition for their portrait work has reached a notable level. Highly praised recent books by Jessica TODD HARPER, Interior Exposure, Zoe STRAUSS, America and Sarah STOLFA,The Regulars, are just one sign of this current attention. Other emerging artists in Personal Views, Justyna BADACH, Rita BERNSTEIN, and Nadine ROVNER, are similarly seeing their work recognized through local and national awards, competitions and exhibitions. And further adding to the city’s gravity in this genre is the recent arrival of renowned portrait photographer Andrea MODICA, who took a teaching position at Drexel University. Andrea Modica is already having an impact on the local photography community through her teaching activities, exhibitions, and workshops.

The exhibition also seeks to demonstrate the richness and variety that characterize Philadelphia’s photographic portraiture. These artists are not joined by a single movement or aesthetic view; their work cuts across a range of approaches to portraiture, both in style and print-making techniques. The single shared sensibility may be their inclination to combine historic and contemporary considerations into images that feel current as well as part of an artistic continuum. Some artists, like Modica and Bernstein, use early printing-making processes, which lend a sense of timelessness to their contemporary subjects. Other artists, like Badach and Todd Harper make large color prints yet allude to conventions in painting, such as in the way they handle light and the careful attention paid to the objects and environments that surround their subjects. All the artists are creating images that, while of the moment, do not seem trendy or fleeting; instead they unfold slowly and resonate deeply.

The fact that these artists are all women was incidental in the design of the show; it was a fact that emerged after the exhibition was largely planned. Yet is it is a feature that provokes a range of interesting interpretations. It could point to a greater interest among women in photographing people; the overall strengthening role of women in fine art photography; the strong position of women in the arts in Philadelphia, or a combination of these and other factors. Regardless of the reason, however, it is clear that women have prominently established themselves in Philadelphia’s photography community. With the role that many of these artists play as educators as well as leaders in other capacities, it will be interesting to see the further impact of this already substantive group.

September 16, 2009 - November 14, 2009

Gallery 339 - Fine Art Photography 339 South 21st Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 215.731.1530

Martin H. McNamara, Principal

Hours: Tuesday- Saturday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm

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