For Elements of Place, photographer Carolyn Marks Blackwood documents the dramatic metamorphosis of the Hudson River though the changing of the seasons. From her house in Rhinecliff, NY, she stands 30 feet from the brink of the cliff, staring into an expansive 50 miles of water. Beginning with the dramatic ice forms fractured by rough currents in winter, she transitions to the rippling tides of spring, ultimately turning her camera upwards to the cloudy firmament that lies above the substantial riverscape.
Profoundly influenced by mid-century abstract expressionism, Blackwood’s sea and sky veer into the realm of Pictorialism, appearing like fiery painted landscapes that defy conventions of photography. These aren’t so much sweeping landscapes as they are elegantly cropped fragments, caught at far too close a range to convey an objective reality. Deconstructed into wonderfully choppy lines of color, the natural terrain becomes subjected to the impassioned gaze of the photographer. Instead of filmy fluid and air, the water and clouds appear to be formed of thick, substantive material. Like an uneven mirror, the water reflects the world above, transforming the solid Catskills into an undulating expanse in a state of constant motion.
Elements of Place is on view at the Albany Institute of History and Art now until September 7, 2014. The opening reception will be held Thursday, July 17. The work of four other photographers will be on view in adjoining galleries.