Can Art Be Oppressive?

Photograph of a bronze sculpture from below the hoof of a horse.
Photographs by Ira Gardner

A couple of weeks ago I received an artist newsletter in my email that was discussing the issues surrounding the controversy about removing confederate monuments. The author describes a group of art conservators debating the merits of removing monuments that depict confederate military leaders. They acknowledge that public art can be an “instrument of power” while also contemplating the artistic merit of the monuments. One conservator remarked, “the sculptural rendering of that horse’s flank is magnificent!”

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Dance: A Celebration of Human Expression

Vytal Movement Dance Company member Lauren Hovick. Photograph by Ira Gardner © 2020.

Over my more than 30 years of experience as a professional photographer dance has emerged as one of the most significant subjects in my work.  To me the image of human bodies in rhythmic motion within a finite space is a portrayal of the deepest emotional essence of a human being.  

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The Importance of William Henry Fox Talbots Experiments

Portrait of William Henry Fox Talbot by John Moffat, 1864.

The development of photography can be traced back to the failed attempts by William Henry Fox Talbot to draft the beauty of the landscape at Lake Como by hand in 1833.  He wrote: “How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durable and remain fixed upon the paper! And why should it not be possible? I asked myself.” 

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Thank You Bill

Hand holding a tattered photo of a marine.
© 2018 Ira Gardner

I was in Portland with a group of students standing on the train platform near the airport.  We were getting ready to head downtown for a day of photography and touring art galleries.  This man came up to me and asked me if I was a photographer.  He could see the large camera bag hanging from my shoulder and the cluster of students with Nikon and Canon camera straps around their necks.  I explained that I was on a field trip and he immediately told me about all the places to go and how to get off the train and catch a connection up to the area around Portland State University.  He said his name was Bill and talked about how they film lots of movies in Portland and that they have lots of craft service food trucks and RV’s for the actors.  They sometimes gave him a free meal.

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