Sunday, June 21, 2009

John Luesing Named Artist of Distinction in Dwellings Exhibition

John Luesing makes his second appearance in a Still Point Art Gallery exhibition, having also been an exhibiting artist in the Still Point I show. As for his art work, John continues to show excellence in composing his photographs and framing his subjects.

A resident of Chicago, it is fascinating to see how someone from one of our greatest American cities approached this exhibition - Dwellings. Appropriately, John gives us the urban and the suburban, more so than any other artist in the show. In Condo Rehab #4 (first image on the left below), we see not just a large city condominium reflected in a couple of mirrors, but, as is made clear by the title and the debris in the photograph, we see a large city condo being rehabilitated. In a very creative way, John captured an essential piece of the urban landscape, a particular kind of urban dwelling known as the condo. But he added a real urban twist. His condo is undergoing rehab.

John's next photograph is all Chicago - the city's skyline reflected in frozen Lake Michigan. This image, Shadows on Lake Michigan (second from left below) makes an important statement in this exhibition: people inhabit more than their house... they inhabit their community, their town, their city. John's image speaks about city-dwellers, especially those who make their home in Chicago. This image has what defines a Chicagoan - the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and winter. This is the dwelling of a Chicagoan.

John's other two photographs shown here, Suburban Swingset #1 and Bear Rug on Leather Floor #2, represent the suburbs. One is a sweet view of a young girl in a neighborhood park. The other is a bear rug, complete with bear head, on a leather floor, presumably in a den or gathering room - the kind of room one is likely to escape to after a hard week working in the city. John captured the theme of the exhibition in a very broad way, and in a way very true to his own dwelling.

John has this to say about his work...
My photography stems from my theories and practices as an interior designer.

Born in rural Michigan, I grew up surrounded by nat
ure, and at the time it was easy to take my environment for granted. Yet living around woods and fields instilled in me an appreciation for the forms and randomness of nature. As I grew older, a fascination for man’s ability to construct massive structures and buildings led me to begin studying interior architecture and design. The non-randomness of the process of building intrigued me.

When I moved to Chicago to complete my BFA in Interior Architecture and Design, I began studying the techniques and philosophies of the most famous twentieth-century architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe to name a few. Their mathematical, proportional, and rational designs were a great inspiration to me, and I began applying these techniques to my own design.

I look at buildings and interiors as groupings of planes in multiple axes which are inherently related to one another; they have to be reconciled individually while simultaneously interacting with each other to produce a harmonious grouping. Within each individual plane there must be strong composition, but also an emotional component. Composition is what attracts you to the space. Emotion draws a response to the space, whether it is comforting, thought provoking, or something else. Usually I rely on my client to add the emotional content to the space through his or her likes and dislikes, as well as through personal objects interjected into the space. In my photography, I take responsibility for both of these aspects: composition and emotion.

When I see things that make me smile or make me think, I photograph them. I apply my theories of composition, proportion, color, and positive and negative space to create a composition that, when on paper, subconsciously draws the viewer to the subject matter. I would like to think my work inspires people to take a moment and appreciate the things around them they may have missed. It is important, I believe, to stop and regard the world around us.

In my photography, I don’t rely on specific subject matter. Living in Chicago, I am fortunate to be exposed to both the randomness of nature and the structure of man’s creations. I have no expectations of what I may come across when I wander with my camera. What I do look for is the unexpected, the juxtapositions of life, and things people see every day but may not stop to look at or admire.

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I asked John some questions about his art.

Christine (Gallery): What has drawn you to photography as an art form?

John: I was first introduced to photography while in college, and it became a medium that allowed me to express myself outside of interior architecture and design. I love the ability of photography to record an instantaneous moment, for me to be able to present it, and for the viewer to make judgments about what was going on in the particular moment that my photo represents.

Christine: How would you describe your photographic style? What draws you to your particular style of art?

John: I tend to think of my work as “strongly composed.” I would like the subject matter to be secondary to the composition of the work. I try to arrange the elements of the composition to get the viewer drawn into the photo, and then for the viewer to analyze the emotion of the subject matter. What draws me to that style? I have spent years working with two-dimensional compositions, which are then translated into the third dimension through architecture and interior design. I frame a photograph much like I would layout any design I work on, with the result being a well-organized composition with an underlying emotional component.

Christine: What are you seeking to express through your art?

John: I am trying to express this thought: “slow down and look around.” There are so many things we pass in our everyday life that we rarely pay attention to, yet they are there. It is difficult these days to move slowly through space. Everyone is in a hurry, and it is nearly impossible to see everything around you, much less take the time to freeze an image in your brain and remember it. I try to do that with my photographs, and then let the viewers interpret it for themselves.

Christine: What is the inspiration for your subjects? What inspired the subjects of the pieces in the Dwellings exhibition?

John: The inspiration for my subjects is all around me. I never know what it may be. I look for things that are interesting, that don’t seem quite right, that are funny, or that are emotional. The majority of the subjects in the Dwellings exhibition are a result of my work as an interior designer, documenting projects I have worked on. I always try to capture well-planned compositions no matter what the subject matter is or the reason for the photo being taken. There is an emotional undercurrent in all of the Dwellings photos, and it is for the viewer to interpret.

Christine: How do you practice photography? Is your camera always with you, or do you set out on photographic trips? Does this influence your art?

John: I go through phases with my camera. I may go weeks without thinking of taking pictures, as I am involved in many other projects, which usually run concurrently. Other times I will carry the camera everywhere I go. A lot of it depends on where I am going and the time of day and my attitude that day. I don’t let the camera pressure me into going out to shoot. When it feels right, it happens.

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John Luesing has eight photographs in the Dwellings show. For purchase information, please contact Christine Cote by email or by phone at 207 837-5760.

Return to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
June 2, 2009

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