Windows to the East: China Through the Local Lens
Crowley: The Asian Series
Phyllis Crowley started photographing in New York City at the age of 11, developing the film in her family’s apartment with her father’s help. At 21, she received a Polaroid; and a few years later, she moved to New Haven and joined a group of photographers called “Aperture” and began approaching photography as an art. Phyllis credits Lee Friedlander, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, and Minor White as major photographic influences. She likes to try new things, experimenting with new styles and techniques that build on previous work.
The Asian Series began with a trip to the Huangshan Mountains in China. High in the mountains, early in the afternoon, the clouds roll in, enveloping the landscape in fog, obscuring much of the view and creating a soft, mysterious enclosed space around the viewer. This spoke to her in a very personal way. Seeing the rice paddies in Vietnam at dawn, covered in mist and early morning fog, expanded the Chinese experience.
When Phyllis arrived home, the memory of those emotionally stirring places melded with images of all the Asian landscape art she had seen – in particular,their expressionist approach and their use of negative space to inspire the viewer’s imagination. This profound experience made her decide to create this series; and she is now applying a similar aesthetic to her own environment, re-visiting her surroundings in a more personal way. (he series includes photos of Cape Cod and East Rock Park.) The photographs in this series are taken in color, then transformed into black and white, softened, and lightly toned.
“These images for me denote a personal, intimate space. Also, I have a long-standing interest in interfaces of various kinds, like fog and water that come between the subject and the viewer, obscuring and distorting, hiding and revealing. The photographs have the soft edges of memories, and ask the question of what we can ever see and know clearly. Color is subtracted to make them more abstract, emphasizing the tonalities and forms.
“They are like secrets, and must speak softly.”
Roy Money: Abstract Microcosms
Roy Money was actively involved in photography for a decade before his MFA, including teaching photography at two community centers in Boston and at Middle Tennessee State University, and exhibiting in Boston, Atlanta and Nashville. After art school he taught photography at Burlington County Community College in NJ and at a secondary school in Maryland, and his work was curated into several shows – in Wilmington, DE, and in Chicago and LA.
Roy has been interested in Asian culture for decades. Then a 2008 trip to visit his son, who took 4 years of Mandarin in college and moved to China upon graduation, served to inspire Roy’s commitment to photograph again more vigorously. The contact with a different physical and cultural environment was visually stimulating and intellectually satisfying, and the experience resonated deeply with his existing practice of Zen meditation.
“For several years now I have been drawn to photographing things that might be called abstract, or as a friend said, ‘unclear as regarding scale’ — things that are close-ups or visual fields without a primary subject, or simply ambiguous. I think of them as microcosms, as images which are released from the monopolistic associations of something easily recognized and can evoke the nature of a wider view.
“In Chan and Zen literature there is a rich legacy of the microcosm perspective.The 6th century Chinese Huayan school treasured a story about Indra’s Net, avast net of jewels each of which reflected all the others; 9th century Zen Master Gensha was known for his statement that ‘The whole universe in ten directions is one bright pearl.”
“For me the issue is one of allowing myself to experience more fully what I see, and sometimes discovering constellations of line and form that seem to function as energetic expressions of a wider space and time. My Zen practice continues to be a major influence on why and how I use the camera – to explore the limits of my awareness and the porosity of the boundary between what is me and what is other. When the best circumstances prevail, I think of the experience as a close encounter.”
Paul Duda: Street Scenes
Paul Duda earned his BFA degree in photography from the Pennsylvania State University and his MFA degree in photography with a minor in Photo History from Pratt Institute in New York City. Duda’s work involves a study of cultures in more than thirty countries. He has had over thirty one-man exhibitions in cities such as Istanbul, Prague, and New York City, and has participated in more then fifty group exhibitions as well. Duda taught at the University of Bridgeport and since 1993 has been an instructor of photography at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut.
In 2008, Duda’s book,The Vanishing Hutongs of Beijing, presented a photographic study of areas destroyed in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. Duda has owned and operated studioDUDA photography,a commercial photographic studio on historic Wooster Street in New Haven since 1996, and has worked for such notable clients as The New York Times and Sports Illustrated.
“I believe a photographer can create a phenomenal image without the use of an incredible subject. What matters is the arrangement of the objects within the space, the movement of the lines, tones, textures, light, and shadows included in the composition…
“These images were taken in October of 2001 less then four weeks after the Trade Center was put to rubble. With the world trying to understand the attack, it was nice to see a slow way of life. Communities of people with a woman rinsing her wooden bucket in the river. There was a kind of dance in the bicycles; everyone understood the rhythm. In October 2001, an old women shouldering the weight of her vegetables strung across a bamboo pole meant more to me then the endless media coverage. China was quiet with mass movement. I should have understood the construction cranes across the water and seen the loss of culture that was coming. Of course there’s a thankfulness in having seen it.”
The exhibit will run through Thursday, May 21.