The 2021 Still Life Exhibition
The genre of still life is as iconic as it is indefinable: loosely considered an image of a grouping of staged inanimate objects, still life photography has grown with and reflected the medium itself. The influence of painting on early still life is palpable: from Nicephore Niepce’s 19th century heliographs of set tables to followers of 20th century pictorialism who attempted to elevate the medium through works which mirrored academic masters, photography and still life painting have a uniquely potent relationship. The inspiration found in iconic scenes produced by 16th – 18th century painters can still be seen in contemporary work; however, as the medium of photography has evolved so too has the genre of still life. This exhibit highlights the works of contemporary photographers during a time when the reality of isolation reflected in the still life is uniquely poignant. Still life differs from other artistic genres, as it continues to be a conduit to singularly capture an artist’s style and internal life, allowing the photographer to meticulously set and place a scene. Ultimately, the genre of still life mirrors photography itself: a medium which both captures memory by stopping time and reflects the mortality we must all come to terms with, whether it be from vanitas of rotting fruit and dying plants or poignant scenes evoking times with family and togetherness. The works in this virtual exhibit grapple with deeply human feelings of loneliness, mortality, and the joy found in simple daily moments. Thank you to all who shared their fantastic work with us, and congratulations to the selected artists.
Natalie Cooney is pursuing an M.A. in art history and curatorial studies at City College of New York. Her research has focused on the history of photography with a range of focus from Victorian post-mortem photography to contemporary work, and is expecting to finish her studies in May 2022. Prior to graduate school, Cooney was the gallery director for the New Orleans Photo Alliance, where she worked closely with photographers to produce exhibitions which elevated artists based in Louisiana and throughout the United States. She has also worked with PhotoNOLA to help produce the annual photo festival and portfolio reviews.. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
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