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VAST: Sea Salt Sand Sky featured over seventy photographs by acclaimed New York artist Joni Sternbach. They picture the sublime vastness of ocean, sky and desert captured on film, and produced as cyanotype, platinum/palladium, gelatin silver or pigment prints and video. VAST also included Sternbach’s most celebrated series, Surfland, a mesmerizing array of surfer portraits (some of noted surfers) made on beaches around the world in the 19th century wet plate collodion process. Applying almost every photographic form there is, the artist uses a variety of matrices (glass, film, video), camera sizes (the largest, a 16x20” view camera) and lenses (including a 1840s Petzval Portrait lens) to create exquisitely detailed imagery. “I have pursued historic mediums,” says Sternbach, “as a way to have a conversation with history, and play with photography.”
The word “vast” referenced the subject and scale of Sternbach’s prints, and the reverie she finds in nature. Her expansive vistas include history (marking the passage of time and change) and the contemporary sublime (terrifying and awesome in the earth’s beauty and power). Her surfer portraits shift this inward meditation outward to where surfer’s bodies and boards master the ocean’s edge, finding euphoria there.
The exhibition was curated by Carol McCusker, PhD, Curator of Photography.
The artist gave a public lecture in the Harn’s Chandler Auditorium on Sunday, February 18, at 3 p.m.