Etherton Gallery is pleased to announce our new spring exhibition, Kate Breakey: Transience, which highlights photographs and multi-media images by Kate Breakey, who has dedicated her artistic career to preserving wildness in the natural world. The exhibition opens April 5, 2022, with an artist reception Saturday, April 9, 2022 from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Kate Breakey: Transience will be on view at Etherton Gallery through June 18, 2022.
When speaking recently about her 2022 retrospective at the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas, Breakey said, “My own collection of images serves as a record, a kind of a random, disjointed, visual diary of the things I’ve seen and loved – a way to possess and preserve what is wild and ineffable, and above all transient, labeled and arranged under glass – my own kind of natural history museum, evidence of my life’s journey.”
Breakey credits Alfred Stieglitz, an advocate of Pictorialist photography, with freeing her to work against the grain of contemporary photography. Popular in the early 20th century, Pictorialism was an artistic movement and an aesthetic approach to photography that emphasized the beauty of the subject matter, tonality and composition rather than the documentation of reality. Pictorialist photographers often made altered photographs that looked more like charcoal drawings or pastels.
Expanding on that legacy, Breakey has experimented with many different materials, such as paint, pastels, colored pencils, and embroidery within her photographs; on an equally diverse range of supports such as photo papers, glass, silk, hand-made artist papers; using processes that include orotones (or goldtones), photograms, and a variety of darkroom and digital processes. She prefers the sensual, velvety texture of photogravure to the straight gelatin silver print, and the tactile pleasures of using paint to add layers of complexity to her subjects, all in service of expressing her awe and wonder at the natural world.
Breakey is spellbound by what she calls the “natural disorder of things;” the random details in the pattern of a rattlesnake’s skin, the way the light falls on a patch of grass, or a bird that alights on a twig for an instant. As both a romantic and amateur scientist, she understands the fragility and ephemerality of the life around us. In her portraits, still lifes and landscapes, she captures these brief moments.
Each hand-colored work by Kate Breakey is a product of time, labor and concentration. She cannot replicate the materials, processes or in some cases, even the framing, that contribute to the making of each photograph. As a result, each hand-colored photograph is a unique, multi-dimensional object that stands on its own or as a group and provides a larger portrait of the wildness she tames in every image.
Kate Breakey: Transience takes a slow look at the artist's quest to possess and preserve “what is wild and ineffable,” over the last 40 years.
In conjunction with Kate Breakey: Transience, Etherton Gallery is pleased to present an installation of landscape photographs by one of their newly represented photographers, Paul Hart in Paul Hart: The Fens. The Fens, a region of reclaimed marshland in eastern England, is one of the richest arable areas in the United Kingdom. For over ten years Hart has explored this wide-open landscape of straight lines and flat horizons, and nature’s vulnerability within this unsheltered, unprotected environment.