Local Arts

Review: ‘Kindred’ is at once personal and insightful

In a social-media-alert society that often equates photography with truth, it’s more and more difficult to believe we can ever tell the difference between the authentic self and the publicly displayed one.

Some of us construct a personal brand with photos: curated aspects of selves and families with, often, the trappings of wealth or exotic travel, evidence of achievements, brushes with celebrity or fame. Some embellish or falsify photos to fit into professional or social brackets – or maybe just to look normal.

The six artists featured in “Kindred: Photographers Focus On Family” are skilled practitioners in their medium. They intentionally use the camera to record moments both personal and insightful. Their creative investigations meld unique instances in time together with soulful truths about their subjects and our human experience.

In Linda Foard Roberts’ “A Measure of Time, Both 13 Years Old,” she focuses not on the physical likeness of her son or the tree upon which he leans but rather the lives of her teenager and a tree specimen that are inextricably joined through time.

Sally Mann contrasts youth and age in “Sempervirens ‘Stricta.’” The mature growth and fully formed Italian cypress trees with their heavy canopy provide a metaphorical foil for her diminutive subject. We can’t help but imagine what has unfolded on this landscape while so much is yet unknown to the young cyclist.

Raymond Grubb’s pictures “Ice Luxation” and “Strasbourg” are less documentary likenesses of his partner Tom Thoune than images that capture Thoune’s character and personality in a particular place and time. The first discloses only some of his features – a bearded face and ice-melting gaze among them. In the second, Grubb uses a silhouette seen through a tessellated door window to summon from memory the qualities of his partner.

Carolyn DeMeritt’s prophetic “My Mother/The Year of Her Death” portrays an aged, resolute and soulful woman cloaked in warm clothes surrounded by seagulls in flight. There is darkness at the corners of the picture, perhaps alluding to the ephemerality of life. In “Erin Pregnant,” DeMeritt captures a youthful mother-to-be embracing her rotund form. DeMeritt is careful not to provide the entirety of her daughter’s facial features, whose lips are expressionless. The photograph’s pensive mood suggests uncertainty and the impending birth of her child.

Other pictures in the exhibition portray the experiences or togetherness of family.

As many of her photographs do, Sally Mann’s “The Ditch” possesses an ominous undertone, hovering between reality and dark fantasy. An observer might think the child lying in the ditch has been bullied; equally realistic is the notion the children are at play.

In David Hilliard’s “Hug,” the artist and his father embrace. Presented in a panoramic view, Hilliard stitches together aspects of a domestic foyer. The embrace is nearly out of frame and much of the composition centers on the enlarged door window and bright light penetrating the darker entryway. Interestingly, Hilliard is facing outward, his father to the house’s interior, perhaps signaling a goodbye.

Brittany Little’s “Asymmetrical” series records moments of her twin brothers’ lives together and their distinctly different personalities. “Little Boys with Dumpsters” is a fascinating portrayal of twins. While one wears a simple blue athletic jacket over a gray T-shirt, the other is flamboyant, wearing a hat, leather jacket and button-down shirt with pink piping. Their facial expressions betray different personality types – one gazes wide-eyed and flatly into the camera lens while the other’s body language suggests an open, easygoing approach to life. The dumpsters, perhaps analogous to the personality of each, provide a clue, too. One is closed and appears hermetically sealed, while the adjacent container’s open slit offers a view into its contents.

Today’s plethora of social and news media imagery, along with our own impulse to picture our daily circumstances, tend to shift our perceptual lens to the superficial. “Kindred” asks each of us to remember our origins and to celebrate our common bonds.

Kindred: Photographers Focus On Family

When: Feb. 3-April 2.

Where: SOCO Gallery, 421 Providence Road.

Details: 980-498-2881; info@soco-gallery.com.

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