Genius Loci: Antone Dolezal, Lara Shipley and Paul Thulin
December 12, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Opening: Saturday, Dec 12, 6-9pm
Gallery Talk with Lara Shipley: Dec 12, 8pm
A community is a group of people who share stories. Oral history binds our present to our past, gives us a place to call home and people to share it with. Stories reflect the values of their tellers and speak to the realities of their lives in a way that facts can never fully encompass.
It is this shared interest in the storytelling traditions of the rural woodlands of America that brought together artists Antone Dolezal, Lara Shipley and Paul Thulin. While working in different geographies and methods, their projects are linked by an interest in the folkloric tradition, a reinterpretation of the archive, and a desire to create a landscape that is both rooted in reality and afloat in a mysterious, otherworldly realm.
The group installation, titled Genius Loci, incorporates images from Thulin’s Pine Tree Ballads and Dolezal and Shipley’s collaborative series Devil’s Promenade, allowing the viewer to engage in an immersive and multi-sensory narrative experience. By weaving traditional photographic sequencing, vernacular imagery, fictional literature and historical record the exhibition constructs a mythical atmosphere of shared imagination, leading the audience through a captivating landscape rooted in the American storytelling tradition.
Pine Tree Ballads is a poetic vision of land, family, and time. In the early 1900s, my great-grandfather settled on the coast of Maine because of its resemblance to his homeland of Sweden. His entire life he shared exquisitely detailed stories of the early settlers of the farm that included such characters as a one-legged ship cook, a widowed schoolteacher, and an ingenious Native American blacksmith. The tales were an intricate mix of history and lore. For over a century, my family has returned to Gray’s Point each summer and the time spent there lends itself to moments of self-exploration, reverie, and existential questioning. In this place, stories have arisen from the mouths of both the young and old that over time has become the essence of my family’s identity. These images resonate with a subtext of hope and struggle that mirrors my narrative sense of self. Pine Tree Ballads is a unique memoir weaving the magical aura of an ancient, shared, historical record with the mysterious dreams met on dark moonless nights when one does not know if their eyes are open or closed. – Paul Thulin
Devil’s Promenade is a collaborative project from artists Antone Dolezal and Lara Shipley, staged in the Ozark region of the United States where we are both from. The project is based on Ozark folklore and culture, centered on an unexplained light phenomenon. The light, which locals call Spook Light, appears as a floating orb on an isolated country road where the devil is said to reside. We are interested in the way folkloric stories are symbolic of very real issues within a community. This region is marked by isolated poverty, wariness for outsiders, and a struggle between heaven and hell that factors into everyday conversation. We feel the mysterious appearance of the light has come to represent for the people we meet a desire for redemption and the fear of slipping into darkness. It is the sublime experience whose defiance of explanation provides a reprieve from ordinary life.
About the Artists
ANTONE DOLEZAL was raised on the eastern plains of Oklahoma and currently resides in Syracuse, NY. His photographs explore the American social landscape and its relationship to history, identity and mythology and are sometimes accompanied by vernacular imagery, found objects and fictional literature. His work has recently been exhibited at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, photo-eye Bookstore + Project Space (Santa Fe), Rayko Photo Center (San Francisco), ArtSpace (Kansas City) and 555 Gallery (Boston), among other venues. Antone’s photographs have been featured on National Public Radio, Oxford American, Photo District News and Mossless Magazine and his prints and books are held in various collections including the British Library (London), Marion Center for the Photographic Arts (Santa Fe) New Mexico Museum of Art (Santa Fe), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago) and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City).
LARA SHIPLEY is from rural Missouri and currently lives in Kansas City, MO, where she teaches photography at Kansas City Art Institute. She is a photographer, writer and bookmaker who primarily makes work about people and their relationships with the out-of-the-way places they call home. Recently, her work has been shown at photo-eye in Santa Fe, 555 Gallery in Boston, Artspace and Epsten Galleries in Kansas City and Workspace Gallery in Lincoln, and she will be part of an exhibition of emerging women artists at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. A portfolio from Devil’s Promenade is in the collection at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL. Lara’s photographs appear in publications such as British Journal of Photography, Atlantic Monthly, Vice, GOOD Magazine, Slate Magazine, and NPR. She is the founder of the photography book publisher SEARCH PARTY, and recently released a series of books, Spook Light Chronicles, with collaborator Antone Dolezal. Before becoming a professor of photography she was an online photography producer for National Geographic and a freelance photographer in Washington DC. She received a Masters of Fine Arts in photography from Arizona State University and a Bachelors of Photojournalism from the University of Missouri.
PAUL THULIN uses analog photography, digital montage, appropriation, and various alternative materials, to explore the contextual and material constructs of history, cultural identity, consumerism, memory, and myth. He is represented by Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco, California, and ADA Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. His photographs have also been exhibited nationally and internationally at United Photo Industries NYC, Miami Scope, Candela Gallery, Chicago Art Fair, and the Toronto Art Fair. Thulin has been the recipient of a variety of photographic prizes and awards including a 2001 TPI National Graduate Fellowship, a 2006 Virginia Commission for the Arts Artist Fellowship, and the 2013 Conveyor Magazine Exhibition Grant. In addition, he has worked on curatorial projects related to local non profit art organizations such as 1708 Gallery and Washington Project for the Arts. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia and works as the Graduate Director of the Department of Photography and Film at Virginia Commonwealth University.