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"Irene Owsley and Barbara Tyroler: Wide and Intimate Views"
2005-09-30 until 2005-11-13
Glen Echo Park, MD, USA United States of America

“Irene Owsley and Barbara Tyroler: Wide and Intimate Views,” is on view September 30 through November 13, 2005 at PHOTOWORKS, Glen Echo Park, Maryland. The exhibition features new work from two Washington, DC artists working digitally but in very different directions, and follows their exploration of the medium’s possibilities. “This show is a testament to the marriage of new technologies and elegant vision,” says exhibition curator and renowned photographer Rhoda Baer.

In a career shaped by her intense love for the outdoors and extreme travel experiences -- kayaking in Arctic Canada, climbing mountains in the American West, or wandering seldom explored sections of the Potomac -- Owsley long envisioned recording the transformative power she experiences in these open vistas. The leap to digital three years ago allowed her the control to finally reproduce what she was experiencing in her mind’s eye. The resulting oversized panoramas read like private meditations on space, where the definitive elements of nature—sky, earth, and water—create an unprecedented sense of immediacy and transcendence.

Tyroler’s water portraits began two years ago with her graduate thesis at the University of Maryland and a series of images of her father at play in the water. Visually ambiguous and bold, her images are ongoing explorations of the abstract discovered in the everyday and in intimate interaction, and of the expressive power, rhythm, and dimension of primary color and graphic line. The instant feedback afforded by the digital medium enhanced her work’s emphasis on interaction and collaboration with her subjects. Digital also expanded her ability to inject color with emotion and to collage elements together to create new imagery that pushes further toward visual ambiguity.

Curator Rhoda Baer comments, “Through their classical photographic training and mastery of the digital process, Owsley and Tyroler present real worlds enhanced by their imagination. Owsley is clearly an artist, not a documenter of geology and topography. Her majestic panoramas capture the color, texture, and drama of familiar and distant terrain. Despite the sharpness and fine detail, Tyroler’s vibrant, quasi-abstract water images are like dreams that trigger a memory but remain ethereal.”

Owsley’s carefully calculated and constructed panoramas capture the immediacy and expansiveness the photographer discovers in a single moment. Labor intensive and exacting, there are only eight in the exhibition-- the electronic stitching together of the 40” to 50 “ long images can take days. The sky comes down to meet the neutral flat plane of the earth in “South Park, Colorado, Sept. 2004.” The eye sweeps across a great expanse of space, taking us into a realm of infinite clouds. In “Dyke Marsh” June 2005” Owsley reverses perspectives and brings us to a new point of view. The horizon disappears, supplanted by a forest of looming water lilies where, anchored by the yellow prow of her kayak, a new geometry is discovered.

Tyroler’s water intimacy portraits became part of her university teaching curriculum and grew into multi-generational community workshops where participants come with their parents, their children, their spouses, photographing each other while Tyroler photographs them. There is immediacy to these images. We feel the rhythmic lapping of the water; sense the dance of light through the medium. In “Takisha and Sefia,” Greenbelt Pool Series, 2004, the surface of the image opens, splintering like a chunk of jagged aquamarine to reveal a layered world where figures transform and dissolve through gentle reflection. With "Mama's Red Moo Moo," Greenbelt Pool Series, 2004, the figure is released further still from representation, floating like a vivid flowing anomie against the moving patterns of light inscribed across the pool floor.

Founded in 1974, PHOTOWORKS is a unique community darkroom and learning center for photographers at all levels, from the beginning student to the working professional. PHOTOWORKS is distinguished by its program of small classes taught by a professional faculty of commercial and fine art photographers who are committed teachers and mentors. Located in the historic arts community of Glen Echo Park, Maryland, PHOTOWORKS is housed in a brand new studio equipped for black & white film development and printing with twelve professional grade enlargers, two film developing rooms, a mat-cutting area, a digital classroom, a studio area, and an exhibition gallery. PHOTOWORKS operates in cooperation with the National Park Service, Montgomery County, and the Glen Echo Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc. PHOTOWORKS incorporated and received tax-exempt status in 2003.

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