In November, Viewpoint’s Main Gallery features three photographers – David Ashcraft, Jimmy Fike, and Magnus Stark – who have three very different approaches to making photographic art.
David Ashcraft is a Californian whose work fits comfortably in the tradition of West Coast photography. He studied with many of the iconic West Coast photographers, including John Sexton, Richard Garrod, Alan Ross, and Henry Gilpin. His subject matter centers on the hallowed West Cost themes of the natural landscape, closely observed details, and abstractions. His concerns are with beauty and personal expression. “For me, the creation of art is a form of active meditation and the making clear or known of what is inside of me,” he writes. “Art gives birth and expression to the emotions and feelings inside that I cannot express through other means. I find it helps me to explore and discover the mysteries of the universe and to create my own mysteries. It gives a depth to life that I would not otherwise experience and enjoy.”
Ashcraft’s photographs are created using film cameras. The film is scanned and digitally processed; then digital negatives are created and used to make contact prints on art paper hand-coated with platinum/palladium solutions.
Ashcraft moved to Oakhurst, California, in 1985, and began photographing the southern Yosemite Sierra. He has remained in Oakhurst, opening the David Ashcraft Gallery there in 1999. He has exhibited frequently, especially in the Central Valley. His photographs have appeared in major magazines, and are held in many public and private collections around the world. His website is davidashcraft.com.
Jimmy Fike’s exhibit comprises selections from his series, J.W. Fike’s Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of the North American Continent. “Within my system,” Fike explains, “the plant is excavated, arranged in the studio, photographed, then illustrated digitally in such a way as to render the edible parts in color while the remaining parts, less emphatically, read as photograms. The plants in these images hover above an infinitely black space, referencing contact prints of botanical specimens from the dawn of photography.”
The photographs “serve as archive and guide for an uncertain ecological future…. These edible plants grow all around us, in yards, alleys, ditches, and empty lots. Each testifies to our symbiotic evolution with all of life, and functions as both poetic metaphor and concrete proof of our intimate tether to the natural world.”
Jimmy Fike was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and earned BA in Art followed by an MFA in Photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has taught art at Wake Forest and Ohio Universities and is currently an Art Faculty Member at Estrella Mountain College in Phoenix, Arizona. His photographic work endeavors to find creative, contemporary ways to approach landscape by incorporating place, identity, ecology, and mythology. His website is www.jimfike.com.
Magnus Stark, who was born in Sweden and resides in Bangor, Maine, makes film-based images without using a camera. “Like a chemist in a lab, I experiment with the raw film by sometimes treating it with a variety of common organic substances, before exposing it to extreme elements. What happens to film if you pop it in the microwave? Submerge it in a hot tub? Stick it in the freezer? And what happens if you do that for an hour, a week, a month or a year?” The goal is to create “something new – something I have not seen before; something which surprises me. I seek to create images which have the power to provoke and therefore illuminate the unknown, the esoteric.”
Stark says that after processing the film, “I witness the extraordinary: the black and white film has picked up color – astonishing color. And … it seems to have captured an image. Perhaps that image was there always, lying dormant until this very moment. Perhaps it was waiting to be awoken, waiting to be discovered. Or perhaps it is not there at all.” He then scans and digitally processes the images and makes archival inkjet prints, some in selenium-brown tones and some in full color.
Magnus Stark was born in Sweden and moved to the U.S. in 1985. Growing up in Sweden, he was given a plastic Diana camera and instruction in his father’s darkroom, and took inspiration from a wide range of sources, including Ingmar Bergman films, Edward Weston, and Duane Michals. After moving to California, he worked his way through various photography-related jobs to a career in architectural photography. His photography has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe, and published in several major photography magazines. He now lives in Bangor, Maine. His website is www.magnusstark.net.
David Ashcraft: Untitled
David Ashcraft: Untitled
Jimmy Fike: Dandelion
Jimmy Fike: Indian Paintbrush
Magnus Stark: No Map to Follow
Magnus Stark: Younique