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Toy Camera Festival comes to Nave Galleries

Posted by  September 4, 2013 10:00 AM

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Warren O. Harold - Splash

The following was submitted by Tori Costa from Marketing Professional:

The Nave Gallery (Somerville, MA) hosts two exhibitions in September as part of the first ever Somerville Toy Camera Festival. Held in collaboration with the Washington Street Art Center, which launched the event in August, the festival is an ode to the unexpected, reveling in the quirky and creative results that happen when a photographer is forced to loosen his or her controls.

Juried by Isa Leshko, an award-winning fine art photographer based in Philadelphia, PA, both shows feature the work of emerging and established national and international artists. The first exhibition opens at the Nave Gallery in Teele Square and takes place September 7-28. The show features the work of: Kathy Chapman, Perry Dilbeck, Shawna Gibbs, J.M. Golding, Warren O. Harold, Jennifer Henriksen, Karen Janas, Jose Manuel Madrona, C. Gary Moyer, Suzanne Révy, Claudia Rippee, Michelle Sheppard, Barbara Traub, Kavita Venkateswar, Elizabeth Wood and James Zall. An opening reception will take place from 6 pm-9 pm on Friday, September 6 at the Nave Gallery.

Toy cameras are defined as any low-end, low-tech, limited-control camera. The effects of these limitations remind Leshko of punk rock. “Both punk and toy camera photography convey a sense of emotional urgency using stripped down instrumentation,” Leshko states. “Beyond the camera gear used to create them, what connects all of the images in this show is that they evoked a strong emotional response that lingered long after my first glimpse. It did not matter whether I felt joy, grief, or awe as long as I found myself returning to an image again and again.”

The second Nave exhibition will take place at the Nave Gallery Annex in Davis Square from September 11 through September 29. Included in the show are Meg Birnbaum, Mara Brod, Kelly Burgess, Kathy Chapman, Ron Cowie, Ashley Craig, Sara Fields, Bill Franson, Warren O. Harold, Silke Hase, Michael Kirchoff, Erin Trieb, and Bill Vaccaro. An opening reception will take place from 6 pm-9 pm on Wednesday, September 11.

“What excites me about this show is the seriousness in subject matter,” Susan Berstler, director of the Nave galleries, notes. “Toy camera photography can lend itself to quirky perspectives of the every day. People play with the limited scope and alter the familiar to produce fantastic results. What we have in both exhibitions, and in particular at the Annex, are photos that deal with sentiment. Overwhelmingly, the pieces convey emotional subjects like yearning and loss. You feel the pain and joy of the pieces first, and then experience the actual photo. Being able to achieve this using a toy camera is pretty incredible.”

Erin Trieb, a photojournalist, is one of the artists in the Nave Annex exhibition whose work reflects this seriousness. Using a Holga, a camera that is lightweight, inexpensive, virtually indestructible and perfectly suited for a battle field, Trieb documented the daily lives of US military troops stationed in Afghanistan. The moments captured reflect camaraderie off-the-field, and on-the-field frenzy. 

The breadth of emotions within Trieb’s work made her a finalist for a Juror’s Choice Award, an award recognizing three artists whose entries met Leshko’s charge to be compelling enough to make the viewer come back again and again. Trieb is joined by two other artists, Perry Dilbeck and Warren O. Harold. Dilbeck’s work documents a disappearing south, while Harold invites the viewer into his relationship with his son.

Both shows conclude this year’s festival, and kicks off planning for an expanded event next year.

Schedule of Exhibitions and Events

The Nave Gallery
Exhibit dates: September 7-28, 2013; Free
Opening reception: Friday, September 6, 6-9 pm
Gallery hours: Saturdays and Sundays 1-5 pm

The Nave Gallery Annex
Exhibit dates: September 11-29, 2013; Free
Opening reception: Wednesday, September 11, 6-9 pm
Gallery hours: Wednesday-Friday, 6-8 pm; Saturday, 2-8 pm; Sunday, 2-6 pm

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