Mark Chuck is an avid fisherman. He will travel great distance to witness one of nature’s fascinating life cycles. Every fall salmon migrate upstream in great numbers overcoming many obstacles to spawn, then die. This is a very emotional experience for him. Through the medium of ceramic sculpture, his work attempts to capture a process that documents an end to the salmon’s life cycle. Beginning with the biological refusal to accept nourishment, the salmon whose ability to self nourish atrophies, leaving only the option to exists off stored body fat for perhaps two to three months, begins a journey that culminates in a climax of fertilization and disintegration. The decomposing salmon at the end of its life cycle becomes nourishment for other organisms in the aquatic ecosystem that ensures survival of succeeding generations. For Mark, the observations of these phenomena are extremely meaningful. Nature and its conservation are compelling realities and provide for me the opportunity to artistically communicate his love of nature through his medium, clay. This interaction of his observation of nature and his primal material clay brings me to the essence of a sublime inner fulfillment as an artist. Mark allows the clay to be itself as a primal material with its cracks and fissures, to evolve as the salmon, having no choice but to be as nature intended. A process controlled by an inner program of nature that returns through self propagation the certainty of a plan that ensures their kernel of life on earth and allows me in reflection to be a small part of an ongoing creative process.
Norma Bernstock, who lives in Milford, Pennsylvania, writes and creates art in her studio in the woods. She is a member of the Upper Delaware Writers Collective and a founding member of the cooperative photography gallery, the Highlands Photo Guild, where her images are part of the permanent collection.
Norma’s specialty is The Polaroid image transfers, which are one-of-a-kind photographs. The print is made by projecting an image onto Polaroid 669 film directly by using a camera or by projecting a slide onto the film in the darkroom or by using one of several pieces of equipment designed for this purpose. The film is then peeled apart prematurely before all the dyes have fully transferred to the positive. The negative is then placed (or transferred) onto high quality hot press watercolor paper. The transferred image may be enhanced with water color paints, pastels or pencils. Image transfers have been described as a “crossover” art form. The final print, with or without further manipulation, acquires a painterly look that blurs the distinction between photography and other art forms.
I recently photographed Bill Tersteeg in his workshop, which is located below his gallery next to his home in Dalton, PA. He is a ceramic sculptor who has worked in clay for the past 35 years. His work is both wheel thrown and hand built. The pieces reflect environmental themes of Northeastern Pa. He uses the raku firing method after hand painting the designed surface of the sculpture.
Milford, PA-based Marie Liu, who I recently photographed in her studio, is an artist specializing in oil paintings recognized by their dynamic composition and expert handling of color. Her technique is a slow, methodical layering of oil paints to ultimately achieve a flawless pattern of shapes and colors. Her charcoal portraits (people and animals) are sensitive renderings that involve the use of brushes to achieve the likeness of smooth skin and soft fur.
The inspiration for her images has varied widely through the years. From humorous “Traveling Cows” – large scale paintings depicting heiffers travels around the world; landscapes that reflect her love of the undisturbed natural areas abundant in the tri-state region; portraits of people and animals; large scale public paintings and her most recent paintings that portray poignant, timeless moments in life.
After receiving fine art training at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver, she returned to the Hudson/Delaware region, where she has honed her craft for 20 years. Her works are widely collected and she works frequently on commission, teaches art and restores oil paintings.
I am working on a project to photograph visual artists in Northeast Pennsylvania, the Delaware Valley and Sussex County. As part of that series, I photographed Jennie Traill Schaeffer in her gallery wearing the very same apron she wore in her self-portrait completed back in 2000 while still in school.