PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE VI | JUROR STATEMENT | MELISSA DEWITT
I believe there is only so much you can teach. You can guide and inspire, but you cannot teach someone to see. Only they can tap into their purely unique perspective.
The scope of entries in The Center for Fine Art Photography’s Portfolio ShowCase Volume 6 illustrates the breadth of what photography can be. For my selection, I concentrated on what I felt were the best examples of fresh, technically and aesthetically strong, individual portfolios. I selected a range of photography that reflects what is happening right now in contemporary art and documentary. I also looked for that intangible element that makes you return over and over again to an image, whether it be a pair of red shoes on a half torso, the snout of a goat, the traces of a fired bullet into or a landscape photograph of Chicago, one of the most documented cities in America. If there is a thread that ties all of this work together, it is a surreal and distinct eye.
My interpretation for this ShowCase and the reason I am drawn to this particular portfolio collection is, it felt like seeing through the eyes of a teenager. Here is an authentic depiction of everyday life and at the same time, a wonderful mixture of portraiture and still life that is beautifully composed and strangely mystical. Many have documented these awkward years, but few have captured the essence from within.
Considering all the submissions, the strongest work reflects current cultural conditions and experiences, some of which are timeless: bankruptcy, faith, family, death, youth, beauty, fantasy, the natural world, pain, isolation, humor…life. Some portfolios had intriguing narratives and others were fascinating in their lack of information. All were unique in their approach to their subject, whether it was original or well-trodden ground. Show me something I have not noticed, make me care and cause me to feel. Possibly change my perspective. It is all so exciting, the power we have to affect how others see the world. An artist’s job is to find a way to express his or her own perspective. I remember being told at art school, “Through the specific, we reach the general”. In other words, our stories are unique. We are all human; we all share the same feelings and many of the same thoughts. Individuals that share the same culture are even more closely connected. My experiences might not be yours, but you empathize because we are all born, we all feel joy, we all feel pain, and we all grow older. In between, we observe.