“The Photographic Nude” Juror’s statement
This exhibit, “The Photographic Nude”, was inspired by the legendary work of Ruth Bernhard, who lived during the twentieth century and left us recently when 100 years young. She was hailed by Ansel Adams as “the greatest photographer of the nude”, and devoted her life to celebrating the unclothed figure with eloquent light and creativity as well as taught thousands of rapt students with her gentleness and sensitivity. Generations of artists have struggled with “the nude”; In my opinion, in the medium of photography it it is the most difficult challenge. There are formidable tasks for many reasons: it seems to start with individual perceptions the viewing audience brings, also the technical and personal precepts of the model, the artist and the camera. Nothing about it is easy. As both friend and student of Ruth Bernhard’s I am honored having been selected to jury this show. There were times when I asked for encouragement to use my own vision and taste…certainly in juxtaposition to Ruth’s classical vision. I heard many times “It’s YOUR show, Cherie, go for it”! At times I felt a real juxtaposition. It would not have been difficult to curate with Ruth’s sensitivities as a guide, but I had the freedom to acknowledge a path of discovery where her passion and ceaseless exploration of the magic has led me. Ruth said: “My mission has been to raise, to elevate, to endorse with timeless reverence the nude image”. And she did. I was fortunate enough with this show to find some circumstances within that mission to honor the playfulness of myself, the photographer, the field, the camera or the audience. I am hopeful you will experience some of that as well. Two hundred seventy six images from North America were submitted for inclusion into this 62 piece show! These artists were amongst those who answered the call, whatever it means to them, from the Mom or Dad who innocently made a picture of their baby whose diapers accidently dropped to serious and experienced artists working very hard, intuitively, passionately, experimenting, struggling, sacrificing, taking risks to produce what works for them. In the jurying process, I found myself surprisingly inconsistent. With some pieces, it was all about history. Have we seen that before? Some were about what the camera can do, or it was a fleeting, haunting glance, some sarcastic joke, a piece of dust, the shock value. There were times I heard something one of my teachers said long ago which suddenly made sense. Kudos to Michael and Chelsea, the LightBox Gallery is First Class: it honors not only Astoria and the Pacific NorthWest, it is a gift to the United States and the medium of photography!