by the Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Photography
and Imaging's Summer High School Program.
This month's web gallery was spiritedly curated by a group
of 16 teenage photography students. The students came from
all over the United States to study in the Department of
Photography and Imaging at New York University's Tisch School
of the Arts. In the program, they receive college level
studio and critical studies credits and instruction during
an intensive one-month residency.
ENERGY, is organized
by four curatorial teams, selecting from the photo-based
artists' works in the Visual AIDS Archive. Each group was
asked to work together around the many ideas and meanings
related to the word ENERGY. The exhibition concept and curatorial
choices were derived through individual and group writing
and discussion exercises.
Working with the Visual AIDS Archive was consciousness raising
on many levels for the students. Through this project, students
gained knowledge and insight into curating as a career,
how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and treated, what an archive
is, intimate access to a not-for-profit arts organization,
how to articulate thoughts and feelings in relation to images,
how to collaborate, and more.
I would like
to thank Visual AIDS for its generosity in providing this
curatorial opportunity and the artists in the archive for
such stimulating work. I would like to also thank Amy Sadao
and Nelson Santos for taking their time to answer students'
questions related to the archive, the organization, possible
career paths and sharing their personal experiences and
their space with such a large and energetic group of students.
This opportunity is one that has and will continue to reveal
new lessons learned at different stages in these 16 students'
Thanks also to: Jennifer Lehe, Ifetayo Abdus-Salam, Benjamin
Harrison, Lauren Fabrizio, Katie Kline, and Ariel Goldberg,
for their commitment as assistant teachers and mentors for
Schuyler Duffy, Kimberly Muirhead, Gabriela Rodriguez,
Energy and vigor allow us to thrive at what we do. Visual
AIDS enables artists with AIDS to cultivate energy to produce
the art they love. Energy also allows the Visual AIDS artists
to endure the hardships of their physical condition. All
of these artists come from a diverse background. They have
to deal with problems many people will never have to think
of, yet they still have the strength to produce beautiful
Kurt Weston sees the world as an impressionist painting.
Due to AIDS, he contracted CMV retinitis. He became legally
blind. He has been able to utilize his hardships to create
beautiful pieces of art. In one of his photos, Anger Is
Energy, Weston captures the buildup of energy by portraying
a nude man who is positioned on all fours, looking as if
he is about to attack.
When he first moved to New York, John Morrison was impressed
with the city's glamorous energy. After growing up and enduring
the hardships of an abusive home, he created his own fantasy
world. He chose to document the fringes of society. One
of his photos, Dance of the Faeries, illustrates an outcast
of society frozen within the blurred motion of the city.
He appears as though he is absorbing its energy.
Joel Wateres was a chiropractor for 13 years, yet he used
his artistic energy towards his photography. In his photograph
Bumper Cars, there are many cars lined up that are about
to start a race. This illustrates the buildup of energy
before the climactic release of the cars' engines.
Eric Rhein grew up in fear of life, yet through AIDS has
discovered the light in human life. His Self Portrait in
Armons' Barn portrays a solemn character who calmly walks
along as the energy builds up inside him.
After suffering seven strokes and losing his eyesight,
John Dugdale realized he can now encounter anything and
is no longer afraid. Athletic Love portrays a young man
caught in the midst of a handstand at a moment when his
energy is strongly focused and waiting to be released.
Energy is not only about its release. It is also about
its momentum of strength and power. Visual AIDS helps this
power to explode. All these photographers caught moments
in which we could all see the potential energy of their
subjects. Energy is about the buildup before its exertion.
After all, we need to build up before we let go.
Brittany Keema, Hadear Kandil, David Allen, Beatrice
Energy is within each and every person. It can be defined
as the capacity for work, as well as the exertion of activity
and power. The theme of energy was produced based upon things
that are most important to us. Through art, energy can be
greatly expressed through the use of lines and texture.
Among many other components of art, color is very strong
in exerting energy. In this case, photography greatly displays
energy with the help of vibrant colors from all over the
In 2005, an artist by the name of horea greatly used the
theme of energy through specific use of highly saturated
colors. He experimented with colors by collecting materials
and linking them by a common color scheme. In one exhibition,
horea linked together many works through the color orange.
He collaborates these works with his own to intensify the
meaning of the color. This motif of orange, among each work
of art, is a great foundation of energy. horea's photograph
of his installation Cranes was chosen for our theme of energy
because of its sharp saturated colors. He was able to create
chaos among graceful paper figures. Bedlam is a result of
horea's decision to include such penetrating colors. Therefore,
these origami figures symbolize an intense source of power.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres brilliantly uses color throughout
his artwork and installations. Exploring his sexuality and
political issues among his artwork, Gonzalez-Torres is one
of the most influential artists of his time. In 1991, he
created a piece inspired by Ross, his lifetime partner,
who died six years before him. In Untitled (Portrait of
Ross in LA), a pile of candy is the subject. Gonzalez-Torres
reinforces that something so simple can be so energetic.
Despite the fact that the subject of these images are sculptures,
it still does the job of explaining how the use of color
is important in conveying a feeling of energy.
Like the other artists we chose, Memphis also uses saturated
color as a powerful source of energy. As an African living
in America, Memphis tackles global issues on race. The message
of his art is still global in everyway, despite the fact
that it is referenced to African Americans. In 2003, Memphis
constructed a digital picture entitled Cinco Para Siete.
We chose this photograph, despite the fact that there is
no definite subject, because it exemplifies greatly how
to use color to create energy. He also incorporates text
into his photo, which are bold colors in themselves. This
piece of art is so great in that it poses many questions
that don't have answers. Nevertheless, without Memphis'
choice of colors, our minds would not alert us with these
burning questions and all that there would be is a great
lack of vigor.
Tara Popick was born in New York. She soon became a photographer
after being diagnosed with HIV. Like the other artists,
Popick smartly uses color to convey the feeling of energy.
In Evolution, her pinks send off a warm feeling to the viewer.
David King's collage, like the others, displays great usage
of color. In Kali Girl (#8), the vibrant blue sky against
the black and white face of a young girl results in feelings
of calmness and confusion.
In conclusion, the use of color is a great way of portraying
energy through photography. Therefore, the images we chose,
as curators, each display a vast variety of colors. We learned
that different colors evoke different emotions among viewers.
Whether black and white or vivid rainbows, the way the artist
uses them is essential for constructing a successful work
Lily Avnet, Charley Damski, Andrew Gold, Michelle
Energy, when expressed through art, conveys a certain self-reflection.
The artists from Visual AIDS are living with HIV/AIDS; therefore,
the manner with which they display the energy in their art
is distinctive. The images we have selected display energy
through lines and shapes. Tension plays a large role in
the arrangement of the photographs. Each individual image
contains strong compositional elements that combine to form
a visual map for the eye. Geometric figures play a large
role in displaying tension in a picture.
The bold diagonals of Tseng Kwong Chi's San Francisco,
California not only draw the viewer into the picture, but
also capture the anxiety of the lines and the rigidity of
the figures in their contrast. Bruce Cratsley's Charlie
Descending makes use of diagonals to show a clash between
the tilting angle and extreme perspective, which parallels
the emotion of the child about to fall off the stairs. Repetition
of form also adds to a suspenseful action in building up
the energy of an image. In David Wojnarowicz's Untitled,
1988, the reiteration of curves and figures of the buffalo
emphasizes the tension of the fall and the vulnerability
of the buffalo as they tumble off the cliff. Wojnarowicz's
Untitled (still of women's legs), again demonstrates a repetition
of form not only in the redundancy of the same picture within
one image, but also in the multiple legs and poles that
meet at various points. This recurrence of lines suggests
another form of tension mimicking the fragile balance of
the legs on the small heel of the shoe. The sharp lines
of the sprinkler threaten the soft curves of the animal
in Elliot Linwood's Sprinkler, also evoking the vulnerability
of the animal despite its tough stature.
Within these five images, compositional elements parallel
each subjective action with geometric shapes. The figures
show the energy and tension communicated between the subject
and its surroundings that demonstrate the way these photographers
interacted with the world. While living with a debilitating
condition, these individuals capture a remarkable and unique
form of energy.
Scout Sanders, Hillary Strack, Jordan Hodge, Jonathan
Human energy -- our energy is everything we inhale and
exhale. All of our thoughts, actions, and contributions
to the world originate from an internal energy, an acceleration
to produce and initiate change. As we release our energy,
we also inhale the energy that our environment produces.
All of the actions we take and emotions we feel came from
past surroundings and experiences. Visual art embodies this
exchange of energy, as individual artists' project their
internal energy on the world and allow the world to absorb
and recycle this energy. For when a viewer sees a photo,
they experience their own inhalations and exhalations through
their interpretations. The works we selected include: Barbara
and In the Garden of Gethsemane by Vincent Cianni, Pearls
by Ali, Untitled by Steed Taylor and Peering Through the
Darkness by Kurt Weston.
The idea of inhaling and exhaling directly affects the
way we humans connect with one another. A mother to her
child share the same bodily energy just as a human can physically
connect with another human or an individual can connect
with his surroundings or environment. The mind can test
its ability to sustain as the body tells it to keep on striving.
Inhaling and exhaling are the written words of our body,
the food for our soul, and the completion of our hearts.
Vitality and extension of self cause the human race to connect
with one another to create this effect of inhaling as one
and exhaling as another.
Erika DeVries is an instructor at New York University's Department
of Photography & Imaging. The Tisch Summer High School
Photography Program at NYU focuses on using photography as
a tool of communication, and emphasis is put on the articulation
of ideas, creative expression and personal exploration. The
students gain the visual and verbal vocabulary to further
articulate their interests in relation to creating and discussing
imagery. The culmination of the program will be an exhibition
of the students' photographic work in the Tisch Gulf &
Western Gallery and an exchange portfolio. The course takes
full advantage of the creative communities in New York City.
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