(Photo credit: Curtain, Palais Garnier, Paris, France, 2009 by David Leventi)
I was drawn to photos that instead of just casual inclusion of something red, hinted at the theme by alluding to a memory, a political happening or a cultural practice. Others exposed grandeur in architecture, displayed honest portraiture, or explored abstract expression.
The Center was honored to have Amber Terranova as the juror for the Red exhibition, which is on display in the Center’s Main Gallery from April 23 to May 22, 2010.
I keep seeing red now. I’ve spotted rosy cheeks in the cold, splashes of red in the landscape and a hair bow turned to just the right angle in the sun. It was a treat to judge entries around a theme that emphasizes color in photography. The simplest rules can sometimes make the best competitions.
Red is a psychologically powerful color, often used as a symbol of intense emotion or action. This made for an eclectic mix of entries. I approached my selection as if I were editing any body of work around a specific theme, by asking questions: Does the image have a point of view? Is it inventive? Does it have some personal resonance? Does it tell me something about the person or people in it? Is it dynamic? Does it raise questions or pique my curiosity? Does it make me feel uncomfortable and stop me in my tracks? Does it have interesting composition and hold my interest as my eye moved through it.
In many of the thousand entries, I was struck by the variety of well-composed, graphically striking images that led to something deeper. I was drawn to photos that instead of just casual inclusion of something red, hinted at the theme by alluding to a memory, a political happening or a cultural practice. Others exposed grandeur in architecture, displayed honest portraiture, or explored abstract expression.
Traditional and alternative processes worked well in the color-theme competition. Wendy Small‘s photograms, David Rivas’ infrared and cross-processed C-prints and Sergio Dennis’ “Lava monster,” shot on Kodachrome all stood out. In Kathy Beal’s, “Red Rose,” the idea of the rose is transformed into a layered, flattened object, almost like a sculpture on paper.
But more straightforward acknowledgements of red worked well, too. Ken Lee’s, “Morning Devotions” depicts Tibetan Buddhist nuns praying in their red robes under a bright umbrella of red hues illuminated by natural light. The vibrancy of red in the Soviet flags in Evi Lemberger‘s image calls attention to the gathering.
What all of the 50 chosen images share is an ability to stand on their own as an expression of a unique voice. Together, they changed the way I see, which is, after all, what we ask of photography.
Amber Terranova is the Photo Editor for Photo District News (PDN). Her career has focused mostly on editorial work, with positions at New York magazine and Outside magazine, all the while working on international commercial advertising shoots, industry programming, and photo consulting.