If you're in the Atlanta area over the weekend, head on over to PB&J Gallery and check out Body & Soul! With all you've come to expect from this sensual and erotic event, this exhibition celebrates the nude male form at its most compelling. Last year's artists return including videographer Drew Davis, presenting an erotic video short, and award-winning (and FHFavorites) photographers Bob Burkhardt and Trevor Green. This show's featured models include Brandon Akins, Kai Bell, Ak Brown, Brad Cato, Denerick Lindsey and XL.
I only discovered the work of photographer Jack Pierson last year, but ever since, he has become a favorite, and I anxiously await the release of new imagery. His new shoot with model Miles McMillan for Purple Diary, beautifully exemplifies why.
'I think this image sums up something special regarding the “on the edge” theme. All of the photographs show models near ground level or near a safe level, but their view is limited in what can been seen. Sam in the tree I think captures what we all wish to have…a high vantage point to see what is in the future…. to see what is coming before it gets here.'
From the instant I dove into Wildplum Images portfolio, on the edge became the lens which processed my emotional response to the imagery. When you're on the edge, there are elements of possibility but also of danger and risk. There is looking towards the future, but also looking back to the past. Sometimes going backwards can be a reassuring experience, but for so many, it is also a journey often fraught with sadness, guilt, regrets and pain.
All of these elements weaved so beautifully with Jim's (Wildplum Images) captures. The quiet tranquillity of the location, and the wooden pier and porch rails help support, both the theme, and the models who pose within and upon. Although the models are all nude, the strength in Jim's work lies in the power and emotional connection between the male form and their surroundings. There is a sensuality and even an elegance about being by yourself, naked and surrounded by such beauty. Completely alone except for the thoughts, memories, worries and dreams swirling around within.
When I shared my idea for theme, I was surprised when Jim had responded he had not previously look at his work that way. I often still assume, what I am seeing is what the artist planned and intended, forgetting that art, and beauty is interpreted the eye, and more importantly, emotional experiences of the beholder. Perhaps my own feeling of being 'on the edge' played a role in my interpretation. I have several places that I routinely return to when my life is in turmoil. They are all places of meaning, and all provide incredible views. One is rock on a lake, another is a beach I love going to, especially during storms. The other looks down upon miles upon miles of farms, rows and rows of fields which depending on the time year provide an incredible array of textures and color.
'One thing I try to do with my photographs: I don’t try to tell a story. I want the viewers to see the photo, the model, the pose, and then, create in their minds their own interpretation…their own story. Most of the photos you chose are ones I based on my love for Thomas Eakins’ painting: The Swimming Hole. I never really thought of my photographs in terms of the model being on the edge of a fishing dock or a porch railing, nor did I ever consider that point of view when posing the model.'
I loved that the way I responded to Jim's images was new to him and that he said it opened up a floodgate of ideas related to the images and his work. All of the models within Jim's images are under 30, with their futures in front of them, all searching, with all of the anxieties and fears associated with moving into adulthood. 'I see a cautious attempt to “test the waters”, to seek balance by holding on to an anchor, to stand up to fears yet experiencing doubt and uncertainty of what lies beyond or below. I see the nudity as the model being in a most vulnerable state where nothing is hidden… where the person, his strengths and weaknesses, his fears and courage, his failures and successes are totally visible to the whole world.'
Jim's journey into photography began 10 years ago, starting with a class a his local community college. The nude photography workshops caused Jim to fall in love with shooting the male form. Jim finds his creativity expands and he is able to find more ways to photograph the human form when the mode is unencumbered. For Jim, clothed shots seemed to always be more about the clothes, but with nude shots, it became more about the light, shadows, lines, angles and form.
I have written before that with my major in psychology, and my day job being fairly demanding, FH acts as a beautiful creative outlet and release, especially after a long and difficult day. Therefore, I was not surprised than many of the artist's I have featured have had backgrounds in the sciences, some have been doctors, researchers and chemists. With jobs which require such incredible precision, the need for a creative releases is often that much more important and intense. Jim describes himself as primarily an Organic Chemist/Analytical Chemist, with his main area of expertise in problem-solving. 'For almost 45 years I have solved major product/production/ingredient problems. I have solved some very complicated problems, and one particular problem I solved enabled me to “see” a molecule that was completely unknown…never seen before. I was also able to create other forms of this molecule and was able to patent the discovery.'
'I am an atypical chemist. Years ago when I was in an analytical chemistry group, we had a workshop where we were tested for how we think. It was a Right Brain/Left Brain test. The scoring was 0 to -12 for Left Brain thinking (scientific, mathematical, concrete), and the scoring was 0 to +12 for Right Brain thinking (musical, artistic, abstract). My fellow analytical chemists scored -8 to -9. My score was -1. After some thought, I realized that I am both… I think with my right brain and left brain equally. It’s how I solve complex problems. I am a very visual person…a graph or chart of picture tells me more than words because I can see the “big picture.” My conscious mind observes and collects information, works on it some, but my subconscious mind digests the information and puts together into a picture. It’s kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle…how many pieces does one need to get a basic idea of the picture. My fellow chemists would want to put the whole puzzle together….I need about 40-60% to get an idea of the picture.'
'I observe the model, I observe poses, I consult the work of other photographers and artists, I evaluate settings and then my subconscious mind creates a general idea of the photograph for my conscious mind to make real. I think my subconscious mind created the image for my models to be on the edge of something because my life and work (and my photography) is constantly “on the edge.” I am constantly on the edge of solving a problem, or discovering something new and unique, or describing to anxious executives that a product’s vacillation between success and failure is because the stability of the product is sitting on the edge…sometimes it stays put (succeeds) and sometimes it falls off the edge (fails). I think my subconscious mind is telling me that I live life “on the edge,” and I express that subtly in some of my photographs, and, in turn, my photographs show how I live and work.'