Analyzing an excerpt from the “Journey” series next to Ansel Adam’s Redwood Grove allows us to see how color affects the representation of a subject. Both photographs depict the poetic, monumental Redwood trees of Northern California. There is no attempt to twist or recontextualize nature in either photograph – each is a testament to the majesty of the trees. Adams’ work is more documentarian, less elaborated in the staid, simple black and white tones, but the rich greens and browns of Kathryn’s work, combined with the slightly lower angle, emphasize a sense of magic in the trees. The forest is cast in a fairy tale, and one million possibilities exist within its borders.
Belmont Series – Images by Kathryn Wagner This series of photographs, titled “Belmont” has been coming of age for the past few months. I have been fascinated by the contrast of the built environment especially in domestic terms, and the natural world. This series is exploring how that divide has…
Julian Schnabel’s immaculate 2007 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly creates an ethereal, heartbreaking atmosphere that reminds me a great deal of Kathryn’s works from the “One Day” series, or this piece from the “Journey” series. The setting for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a rehabilitation center on the Northern coast of France, and Schnabel, an accomplished artist and director, portrays the place lovingly in sandy taupes, purpley-gray blues, and a divine yellowy-white light. In Kathryn’s works the beaches of the Outer Banks are shown in a similar way, with the hint of human and animal life adding the touch of emotion that pervades the entire duration of Schnabel’s film. Having seen the film before being introduced to Kathryn’s work, upon reviewing it’s impossible to miss how similarly (and well, may I add) both artists have dealt with a similar subject and turned it into something much more meaningful than its face value.
Rene Magritte’s 1955 The Mysteries of the Horizon and Kathryn’s piece of TRAVELERS FROM WHERE IN PLACE both utilize the power of the headpiece. As the royals wore crowns and religious groups their particular habiliments of the head, people wear hats to define who they are. Magritte’s bowler hats, a common motif in his work, are visually interesting, their slight absurdity multiplied each time one appears. They also indicate a sameness, or lack of individuality, amongst the figures, or alternately that it is the same person. The two men of Kathryn’s piece share this sameness, with their black ribboned, perforated white fedoras, light blue shirts, and black backpack straps. We know they are tourists, but do we know why they are there? More importantly, why they wear the same hat? It’s a small hint of Surrealism captured alongside the sites of PLACE.
Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 Christina’s World, the image on the bottom, has become one of the defining images of American art, perhaps only second to Grant Wood’s American Gothic in its communication of American values and lifestyles to the viewer. Kathryn’s image from the “Journey” series is able to express a similar sense of Americana in just as sparse a composition. The tawny, shifting wheat of Wyeth’s piece is echoed in the swaying grass of Kathryn’s piece; compositionally, the ocean in Kathryn’s work is analagous to the circle of mowed field around the house. Just as Wyeth’s farmhouse places the scene in the American midwest and communicates all sorts of morals such an image conveys, the picnic table contextualizes Kathryn’s work. The lone figure is somewhat like the yearning figure of Christina; the table begs for families and couples to enjoy the sun on its planks as Christina struggles to crawl to her home. It’s a sense of melancholy lonliness, seperate from pity or depression, we feel in both pieces.