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Northlight Gallery exhibition features works by photographers of the Southwest

B&W Image:
"A Universal Peek," 2001
by Ken Storch

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

January 29, 2002

What: Northlight Southwest 2002, a group exhibition juried by Anne Wilkes Tucker, featuring the work of nine photographers living in the Southwest

Where: Northlight Gallery, Matthews Hall, ASU main campus, Tempe
(southeast corner of Tyler and Forest malls.)

Who: Monica Hurtado, Anderson Wrangle, Michael J. Madsden, Soody Sharifi, Laura Pickett Calfee, Michael Rafferty, Dillon DeWaters, Ken Storch and Wendy Levine.

When: Feb. 5 – March 5.
          Reception: 7 p.m., Feb. 11

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with evening hours from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, and Sunday from 12:30-4:30 p.m. 

Cost: Always Free

About the Exhibition: Northlight Southwest 2002 features a combination of black and white, and color photos that vary from Monica Hurtado’s portrait of a Guadalupe woman making fry bread to Michael Rafferty’s METROPOLITAN, a series of striking architectural images. Two artists, Anderson Wrangle and Ken Storch, have been selected for solo shows at Northlight Gallery. Anne Wilkes Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, juried the exhibition.

The photos of Anderson Wrangle and Wendy Levine, while different in style and content, are similar in that they appear at first to be images of domestic harmony, but on closer inspection reveal a more sinister reality.

Wrangle’s color images of everyday scenes become unsettling after a moment, but it takes a little longer for the viewer to establish the reason. The pictures are part of an ongoing series, Notes Towards Paranoia, in which the artist enacts scenes based on fears and anxieties of the urban domestic environment. Each image is a journey, as the viewer deconstructs the layers of the image to find the source of discomfort. Wrangle says that the scenes, which he plays out against beauty and humor, are about mental events rather than actual ones.

Interior Garden, a warm, welcoming picture of a colorful garden through a window, suddenly becomes a frightening image of a man, face hidden, standing in the shrubbery outside (or is it inside?) the window. Then the watering can in his hand becomes apparent and he transforms from peeping Tom to careful gardener. Yet the viewer’s unsettled feeling remains.

“There are marked differences in the way the images are perceived,” Wrangle says. “Varied perception leads people to different conclusions about the image, based on whether they read it as drama or camp. Both ways of seeing these images are supportable, and desirable, from my perspective. They can bring out a very personal response from the viewer.”

Levine’s black and white images of women and children are some of the most difficult she has ever taken. This is not for technical reasons but because the images, contrary to first impressions, are “not ‘Mom shots.’” They are part of the artist’sBritish Battered Women Series. Levine’s use of contrast in the black and white images adds a hard edge to what might otherwise be warm images, hinting at their true content and meaning. Titles such as “Daddy Won’t Beat You Like He Did Me,” andFriendships Forged in a Women’s Aid Refuge, bring the reality of the images home with force.

Ken Storch’s black and white photographs use the latest in digital technology to meld multiple images into striking scenes that speak of the enormity of time and space in comparison to the smallness and fragility of humanity. The pictures are filled with images of the night sky, planets, clouds, maps of earth and the galaxy, antique astronomical equipment, striking geological formations and Native American ruins.

New Waters, a photo of the Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon, is surrounded by images of clouds and light, conveying a sense of motion. At the bottom of the frame are the ruins of a centuries-old Native American settlement. The result is an image that captures a sense of both time and timelessness, of eons passing in fast motion while nature remains unchanged.

In another image, Star Trails Over the Pavilion of Thought, the ghostlike images of a Grecian man and woman are created through the use of the negative image. Ethereal and incomplete, they float in the midst of monumental images of an ancient arched building, stars in motion through the heavens, clouds and vegetation.

Soody Sharifi’s photos of Muslim women reflect her exploration of the role of women under Islam as well as her own dual identity as an Iranian American woman hovering between two cultures. In Sharifi’s work, the hijab, or Islamic head cover, becomes a site of contention between values that are culturally imposed and those that are self-constructed.

“I have sought to explore issues of oppression, exile and integration that reflect the position of women as simultaneously inside and outside their respective cultures,” Sharifi says. “In a larger context this can be seen as the position of women worldwide – a struggle between the conflicting demands of cultural and personal identity, specifically the tension between traditional and non-traditional roles for women.”

Northlight Gallery presents exhibitions of photography of contemporary and historical significance, as well as exhibitions of the work of School of Art photography students. Northlight is one of three galleries on the ASU Tempe campus operated by students, staff and faculty of ASU’s Katherine K. Herberger College School of Art.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Pringle