Art ,“born out of frustration,” — Mitch Eckert
Like many artists, Mitch Eckert works in several different veins. Here we examine some examples from his Translations series. Eckert explains that he has been exploring the genre of still life for 25 years, and in these images we see him emulating the lighting in Flemish paintings. At one point Eckert had sought to discard the project and placed the work prints in a recycle bin – a purging action more common than the lay person might assume, but familiar enough to working artists. Eckert explains the process in his own words:
“The Translations series was born out of frustration. I wanted to participate in a dialogue with the rich tradition of the Dutch masters of still life painting so I set out to learn compositional strategies of creating still lifes in that manner. I set up the floral arrangements (my wife made the bouquets from our garden flowers) and using natural light made probably 300 photographs of different still life. After printing them all on an inexpensive inkjet printer to pin them on my wall and contemplate, I came to the realization that perhaps they were too commercial, too pretty. As a student in the heyday of Postmodernism (1980's) I became anxious and nervous about making work that was too pretty. I didn't know how to talk about them. I didn't want to make commercial work.”
“Out of frustration I wadded up the prints and threw them into the recycle bin. After a couple weeks had gone by I was getting ready to set the crumpled photographs into the alley for the recycle to be picked up. I unraveled one of the balls of photographs and to my surprise there was an immediate visceral reaction of delight when my eyes looked at the creases, folds, and torn edges of the photographic paper. In an effort to preserve the image I scanned the crumpled still life with a flatbed scanner and then, using a large format printer, made enlargements on a wonderful printmaking paper that wonderfully complimented the aged wrinkles.”
The results blur the lines of the medium by removing the slick surface and detail of photography and exchanging them for a distressed visual texture. Without intending to do it, Eckert brought his images even closer to the aged and brittle tactile reality of their inspiration.
Examples of this series can currently be seen in Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, which runs through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, which also includes work from C.J. Pressma and Jenny Zeller.
The artist currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is an associate professor or art in the Hite Institute at the University of Louisville. His work can be found in permanent collections of 21c Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Photographic Archives at the University of Louisville, and Swope Museum of Art.
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Education: BFA, Photography & Sculpture, Herron School of Art; MFA, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Ohio University
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.