Sandi Haber Fifield: Lineations
I have followed Sandi Haber Fifield‘s work for many years and was simply blown away by her book and project, After the Threshold, that showcased her unique ability to combine images into exquisite new considerations. The book is a bit tattered now, as I have shared it in all my classes as an example of using “multiple images to create narrative pieces that transcend the formal elements of photography confined to a single moment.” She works in an intuitive manner, searching for the “connective tissue between disparate images to produce a whole from smaller parts.” On the heels of this impressive work, Sandi has created a new mixed media project, Lineations, recently presented at the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York. This evolution of combining imagery has a rare sophistication and fragile beauty, connecting her to her love of the natural world, but shifting how we consider a photograph, moving the work into exciting new arenas.
Her first show with the gallery, Lineations, “challenges the photograph’s privilege as a record of the seen by manipulating images in a variety of ways and combining them with drawings on vellum to expand their formal and expressive possibilities. Through her combination of materials, her embrace of the contingent and ephemeral, and in her choreographed meeting of the found and the invented, Haber Fifield articulates the tenuous beauty and fragility of the natural world.”
Sandi Haber Fifield (born 1956 in Youngstown, Ohio) currently lives and works in Connecticut. She received her MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, studying under Nathan Lyons at the Visual Studies Workshop. Her work has been exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, and The National Museum of Art and collected by institutions including The Brooklyn Museum, International Museum of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, The High Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Haber Fifield’s work has been published in three monographs: Threshold (Kehrer, 2013), Walking through the World (Charta, 2009) and Between Planting and Picking (Charta, 2011).
Sandi Haber Fifield has experimented with multiple images throughout her career, exploring various ways of extending the photographic frame since the 1970s. As Haber explains, “I have never felt constrained by the parameters of traditional photography and have only rarely been interested in pursuing photography as fact.“ In Lineations, Haber Fifield has used the camera to capture what resembles a drawing in nature –telecommunication wires and invasive vines, the prosaic line of a tennis court crack, the swirls of desiccated dune grass on a beach and the determined joints in a concrete sidewalk. Treating the resulting imagery as raw material, Haber Fifield may adjust a photograph’s color or layer different versions of the same image, varying the size and changing the orientation; or, she may embellish the lines inherent in the image with her own drawn lines. Graphite and wax pastel drawings made in response to and as an extension of these altered images have been conjoined to the photographic print. Intimate in scale, the drawings are both intuitive and insistent with a line that is spindly and brittle as well as elegant. The vellum adds another layer, translucent and atmospheric, that one looks both at and through. Haber Fifield’s drawings complete and clarify the given lines in the photograph, amplifying both the logic and whimsy of nature, while revealing a satisfying order in the world. The tactile layering of these hybrid images creates an immediacy that resists the homogeneity of our mediated culture.
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