Stephen J Fletcher
Some Semblance

Opening Reception: Sunday, October 9, 2016    2-5pm

Exhibition dates: October 9, 2016 - December 31, 2016

Gallery hours: M-F 10-6, S 10-2
The Framer's Corner, 210 West Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510  919.929.3166

Artist Statement:

Some Semblance

Photography’s pendulum:

Realism…

Pictorialism…

Realism…

Semblance: the outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different.

“Some Semblance” is my exploration of the pictorial aesthetic within the age of digital photography.

Photography’s Pictorialist Movement flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its essence was the creation of artistic images rather than straightforward visual records made by the mechanistic camera and lens. The unaware usher of Pictorialism was The Kodak, an amateur camera introduced by the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company in 1888, that brought photography into the hands of an enormously larger audience. Artistic photographers using camera and film rather than canvas and brush began to differentiate their work from the everyday snapshot or common studio portrait by making their photographs look more painterly. Pictorialists coupled their artistic reaction to photography’s technological advances with the newfound ability to share images through books and journals that could be shipped around the world.

We live in a similar era: within the past two decades, digital photography has supplanted film, which is now an “alternative process.” Cell phones with cameras jostle in most people’s pockets and purses, placing ready-to-be-made photographs and videos at our fingertips. We share images instantaneously around the globe via the World Wide Web.

My desire to create pictorial images arose as a contrarian response to photographic technology’s resolute pursuit of evermore pixels and evermore sharpness—a necessary development in digital’s quest to be comparable to (or even better than) film. When carried to extremes, however, photographers “pixel peep”—obsessing over the degree of resolution found in some meaningless straightedge within a tiny parcel of a pixel array. The pendulum sways way too far from center. I did not want to become lost in that myopia.

“Some Semblance” was born from mere exposures whose pixels I pushed and pulled until they evoked an emotion or tickled my imagination. They wondered…

“What if I was the glass bearing reflections?”

“So this is how it feels to fly among a flock!”

“Do I move with the ripple of a pond?”

“Does an octopus see me?”

“Some Semblance” is my homage to Josef Sudek, something I didn’t realize until now.

Artist Bio:

By workday, Stephen J. Fletcher is the North Carolina Collection photographic archivist at the University of North Carolina. During other times in life, he photographs.

Fletcher's passion for photography began in eighth grade. During the summer of 1976, he was one of twenty high school students selected to study photography at the Pennsylvania Governor's School of the Arts, a highly competitive, five-week summer residential program for artistically talented high school students. His interaction with other students studying photography, painting, sculpture, creative writing, dance, music, and theater convinced him to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fine art photography in 1982.

He began his archival/curatorial career in 1981 while attending RIT through an independent study at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, learning how a museum used computers to catalog its collections. He was then hired for a summer as a cataloging assistant to sort, organize, and catalog approximately 10,000 lantern slides. He completed two additional independent studies there and was hooked on museums. He then attended the John F. Kennedy University's Center for Museum Studies in San Francisco, obtaining his Master of Arts degree in 1992.

Before his current position at UNC, to which he was appointed in 2003, he has worked at the California Historical Society from 1983 to 1988, and the Indiana Historical Society from 1988 to 2002. In 1988 he also worked as a consultant to the Sierra Club Library, organizing and providing access through a Hypercard database to its Library's photographic collection.

While the focus of his professional career has been as a curator and an archivist, he never completely set his camera aside. He was one of twelve Indiana photographers who founded INVISION: An Alliance of Photographic Artists "to promote and advance the art of photography, and to provide a platform for photographic discourse in order to encourage the artistic growth of its members and to enrich the lives of interested persons through the experience of photography." He has exhibited in group and one-person shows at Through This Lens in Durham, North Carolina, The Photography Gallery and the Artsgarden in Indianapolis, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) in New York City, and has a photograph on permanent exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, IL. He is an active member of Visual Art Exchange Photographers Forum in Raleigh, North Carolina and Through This Lens Photography Gallery in Durham.

Visit Artist's Website »

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