'An Altered Reality' at PHD Gallery: Surreal Photo Still Life and Hand-Woven Photographs Reimagine Photography

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

The photography work of Linda Mueller and Emily Stremming begin where other photographers leave off—in Mueller’s case by pixel manipulation, and Stremming with hand-weaving to create images that are based on reality, but take on a dreamlike or hallucinatory quality. A collection of 24 images from the two artists are on view at PHD Gallery in the exhibit, “An Altered Reality,” from Nov. 2- 30, 2013 with a free public reception for the artists on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 7-10pm.

A Linda Mueller still life Image courtesy PHD Gallery.

A Linda Mueller still life Image courtesy PHD Gallery.

Linda Mueller—who considers her work object portraiture—is inspired by the still life painting of Georges Braque. Her art seems to intimately explore objects that individuals cherish and why they cherish them. Is it a profound memory or a casual recollection? What does the collection of objects say about the person who has collected them? One still life (above) shows a nightstand with an ax and a bible on top and a porcelain clock precariously balanced on two legs. Does the image point out the contrast between the peace of the bible versus the violence of the hatchet? Or is the artist suggesting that both are objects of violence? Mueller’s work reveals heretofore uncontemplated relationships and meanings between objects and the viewer.

Emily Stremming streetscape. Image courtesy PHD Gallery.

Emily Stremming streetscape. Image courtesy PHD Gallery.

Emily Stremming—who delves into photographic theory including the writing of Roland Barthes—challenges the qualities and limitations of the photographic medium. She began exploring the way images are constructed as a response to the digital photography revolution. Oddly, she uses a large format camera to capture cityscapes in maximum clarity and sharpness, then slices the images into ribbons then weaves the strips back together—as in basket weaving—to create an image that appears heavily pixelated—not a sharp image at all. This allows the viewer to contemplate and view a cityscape more slowly and attentively, and perhaps question what actually creates an image, either on paper or in the mind.

“An Altered Reality,” Surreal Photo Still Life and Hand Woven Photographs, featuring the work of Linda Mueller and Emily Stremming, is at PHD Gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street, Nov. 2 through Nov. 30, 2013. For more information, visit the PHD gallery website.

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