Linda Alterwitz: While I Am Still
Innovative photographer, Linda Alterwitz recently opened a mid-career retrospective, While I am Still, at The Studio at Sahara West, Las Vegas, Nevada running from February 13th -May 9th, 2015. The venue offers three separate exhibition spaces so that work from five series can be comfortably and logically be presented. Linda has long been challenging traditional imagery with her “conceptual passion that addresses the intersection of art and science. Her inspiration, the inner workings of the human body and her external environment, plays with the contradiction of fear and reassurance. It is this dichotomy that gives her work a comforting sense of familiarity while simultaneously creating tension.” Her trajectory as a significant and unique image maker is evidenced in her numerous series that are layered and complex in subject matter and process. Linda was honored to be named the first Artist-in-Residence for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District and also received a 2014 Nevada Arts Council Fellowship.
Linda collaborated with Clark County School District educators specializing in both art and science to develop an accompanying curriculum. Over 700 students in grades 5-12 from a diverse range of educational programs and abilities plan to visit the exhibition; they will have discussed the work in advance and engaged in specialized projects, designed to further introduce them to the art and science components in Linda’s artwork. Two large museum display cases were utilized which allowed the artist to gather materials from her studio and from the history of the individual series for the enrichment of viewers of all ages.
Through photography, I embrace science and technology to expose the fragility of our bodies. Although our bodies are impermanent, I remain in awe of human persistence. At the most challenging times in life, we can find the ability to reach beyond our struggles and fears. “While I Am Still” sheds light on the beauty and fear that complicate human lives and the search for solid ground.
Inspired by an MRI of my own brain, and in an effort to isolate myself from the cold sterile feelings typically associated with these images, I began to see beauty in medical images. This experience launched my interest in working with medical imagery, which evolved into a universal examination of the boundaries that exist between art and science. Comparing what is seen through our unaided eyes verses what is revealed using instruments of high technology never fails to fascinate me and provide new ideas for future imagery.
The figure is the main subject in my photographs because of its connections to our human psyche, which is the primary focus of my work. The natural world is another subject that I often use in my work. My relationship to nature represents to me not only a place of peace and sanctuary, but it also serves to counterbalance my obsession with scientific objectivism.
As an artist, I find insight by reaching inside my mind and my imagination. I also look to the creative and technical work of others in diverse fields for inspiration.
For me, the process of making photographs is often times both frightening and calming. I don’t intend for the imagery to provide clarity; rather, it is my hope that my photographs will inspire questions.
These photographs document human life on a scientific and emotional level. Each portrait is captured by resting a camera on the participant’s chest and pointing the camera up to the night sky for a 30-second exposure. Acting like a fingerprint, the unique movement of each person’s breath creates a visual oscillation of the stars above. As a result, the portraits possess distinctive properties that are reflected by varying factors such as weather, ambient light, GPS coordinates, and each person’s breath patterns. These individual portraits are assembled into a greater wall installation giving the appearance of a large star field in the night sky and making reference to a microcosm of human life on earth.
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