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exhibitions


A Person is a Noun: Contemporary Portrait Photography

An Exhibition in Collaboration with Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee


Delaney Allen

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Natalie Krick

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Lisa Lindvay

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Sally Mann

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Kyle Seis

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Tom Zust

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exhibition information

A Person is a Noun: Contemporary Portrait Photography
Dates: 22 January - 18 March 2016
Opening: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday January 22, a Gallery Night

Passing Glances
Grant Gill

I tend to do this thing on buses, at red lights, in grocery stores, where I lock eyes with a complete stranger and see how long it takes for them to break contact. I do this primarily out of curiosity, to see how uncomfortable it can become. Most encounters last only a few brief seconds, while others feel like never ending minutes. It is in these moments that I have grown accustomed to creating my own narratives for these individuals, as I systematically concoct dialogue, back stories, and completely fabricated interactions within my own mind. But I, too, share the natural urge to stop looking as my eyes tear up in confrontation or my heart begins to race. So why do I continue on?

When I look at portraiture, I am enamored by the subject's gaze, expression, and gesture, and it is as a spectator that these themes tend to be more fulfilling in annotated suspension. I believe it is my adoration for viewing people in this form, trying to understand who they are without inflicted judgment — seeing their souls — that drives me to engage strangers in eye contact for however long I can. As if in real life, I am trying to force this person to be still, just long enough for my eternal, inquisitive vice to be satisfied.

In engaging with the strangers presented by A Person is a Noun, I am overwhelmed by the artists' prevailing attitude towards redefining what a portrait is, either by way of exploring self-portraits or through the depictions of their own intimate extensions. It is their unique processes and practices that enable me to transversely connect to these portraits as if they were real interactions. I imagine the romance in looking up from a book at a coffee shop and noticing the iconic beauty from which Tom Zust emerges — or how the refined and delicate photographs of Delaney Allen translate similarly to the desolate stares of a wallflower caught off guard — or how literally Kyle Seis' images are indicative of the buffoonery seen within the coordination of a family photo or the absurdity of the effort it takes to produce a selfie. I see the gaze of a woman in a fitting room, who so desperately wants a dress to work, in the conversations about age and beauty between Natalie Krick and her mother — and in the collaborative renaissance of Lisa Lindvay's family is the depiction of grace within any individual of burden — and simply, how the children of Sally Mann reflect our own desires to embrace rural adventures in an unassuming world.

In the momentary hush, while our eyes lock together, I would like to believe that these strangers see me in the same vein. That my assumptive stories, real or fictitious, are met with their own, and that they too strive to reach farther than the empty judgments in the banality of a passerby. And that you, too, connect to those standing near like the perpetual still frames that you have yet to figure out.

Grant Gill is an emerging artist based in Milwaukee. He is the Projects Editor and a Contributing Writer for LENSCRATCH, where he manages content such as The LENSCRATCH States Project and Content-Aware.