Tag Archives: Photographer

Meet The Artist in Residence: Noah Estrella

Noah Estrella is one of our current artists in residence at Main Street Arts. He is working on studio photography and portraiture during the month of July, 2017. We asked him a few questions about his artwork and studio practice.

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Noah Estrella, self portrait

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in the Finger Lakes. I developed an early interest in visual art from my parents and grandmother. I was actively creative through my adolescence, for a source of play and experimentation. I still look at creativity in that way, but I began taking it more seriously in my 20s. I enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College at the age of 21 to understand more about art. It is still a learning process to me, and very experimental, but studying it verified my desire to pursue it as a lifestyle.

Q: How would you describe your work?
My primary medium is through digital photography. I still play around a lot with drawing, and I do have a love for the written word, but photography is the most pleasurable for me. I am very fascinated with how visual art can reflect humanity, and as a result the majority of my work is portraiture. I think the human form, and the face, can provide us with a huge amount of information and emotion. A look on someones face, the environment, the lighting, etc. this could strongly reveal what is going on in our world.

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait   Self Portrait

Photo of Noah capturing a self portrait                        Self Portrait

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I’d like to say that I plan, and occasionally I do. But it’s usually intuitive and experimental, maybe focusing in on one idea/theme. I tend to contact friends to schedule shoots, keeping in mind the location and their outfit. Sometimes it is informal, just spending time with them and taking photographs, other times it is planning a specific idea. From there I spend a lot of time using editing software, and my goal is to always produce the strongest pieces from photoshoots, and see how they can relate to other photographs, or stand alone.

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Photograph by Noah Estrella

Q: Do you collect anything?
I have a lot of keepsake objects that were gifted to me by friends. Usually things that connect to a memory, person, or event. I think there is something special in how objects can be symbols, not just the historical context of the symbolism of an object, but what they personally mean to you. They can also be great props in photoshoots.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
I’ve noticed that I find the most inspiration in a lot of female artists. Frida Kahlo was a huge inspiration to me from a very young age, her work is personal and emotional, speaking to identity and society. And the entire body of work by the artist Ana Mendieta was a huge eye opener to me; her works are intense and almost threatening/dangerous to the patriarchal interpretation of fine art.
Locally, I’m very intrigued by the immersive artist Colleen Buzzard, I was surprised and glad to find a thinker like that in Rochester. I’m also hugely inspired by Lacey McKinney, my former professor, the elusive aspects of style in her portrait work are personally profound to my interest in human identity.

Photos in the studio

Photos in the studio

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
I always feel I’m getting pulled in quite a few different directions. I intend on using this time to further experiment (with style and contextual meaning), play with lighting (ie. How is it effective/ineffective), and continue to grow. I’m really interested in using portraiture to further understand the dynamic aspect of identity in society (both internal and external, self and other).

Work from Noah's residency

Work from Noah’s residency

Q: Where else can we find you?
I recently made an Instagram @noah_estrella. You can also e-mail me at noahmestrella@gmail.com

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Neil Marcello

I was born in Bombay, India, before I moved to Dubai, where I spent my childhood years. Dubai exposed me to the various industrial landscapes, like oil and natural gas production, large-scale infrastructure construction, and shipping ports that helped transform this desert city into the thriving manufactured oasis it has become today. These industrial scenes also left a lasting impression on me that continue to inform the imagery I produce today.

Photo Credit: Joanna Kula, 2015

Photo Credit: Joanna Kula, 2015

I have been making photographs for the past 10 years, during which time my focus and approach to creating images evolved from casual snapshots, towards images that are research based and might take on a critical role that can raise questions.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the Indiana State University, where my studies were concentrated in conceptual design and urban architecture. As a photographer I am self-taught, though computer technology, Hollywood films, and filmmaking factored heavily in my understanding of the aspects of image-making, as have the works of Caspar David Friedrich, Charles Sheeler and Edward Burtynsky that influenced me at pivotal junctures in my development as an artist

My body of work takes on an abstract quality without losing the sight of its origins. This is not a deliberate effort in which I go looking to create an abstracted view instead I find it to be inherent in the evidence left behind by our highly evolved consumer society.

CA #014, Coincidental Accretion, 2015

CA #014, Coincidental Accretion, 2015

To record my images I use a medium format, analog camera and film stock that best compliment the subject matter. I print using large format digital printers. This hybrid approach offers me the best of what the analog and digital formats have to offer, while continuing to challenge my sensibilities as a photographer and an artist.

My projects focus on conceptual ideas derived from industrial solutions, often created in the name of progress, that I now view as having become problems that bear examination. When I approach a specific idea, it is usually with the mindset that the viewer needs to be visually captivated before there is any chance of my idea being accepted. If the resulting image holds this type of interest, then it might draw the viewer into further discussion and thought on the perspective about the subject matter. Overall I think my work communicates a contemporary view more than it does any kind of popular view or trend in art.

#1JKS, Beyond the Heliopause, 2012

#1JKS, Beyond the Heliopause, 2012

With my most recent project, titled “Sweet Tooth”, the focus is on synthetic dyes derived from crude oil, and their role in the mass production of candy.

Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

The project’s concept touches on themes of industry, mass production, consumerism and some of the resulting negative effects which may be seen in the piece, titled “Good and Plenty”, featured in the “Utopia/Dystopia” exhibition at Main Street Arts.

The idea for “Sweet Tooth” was born out of a need to find healthy candy for kids trick-or-treating on Halloween in my neighborhood when I was living in Los Angeles. I discovered news articles and a radio show on National Public Radio, that discussed the topic of synthetic dyes being used by candy companies in the US for their production of candy, while using natural dyes in the same candies in Europe.

Having just completed my work on “Mulholland’s Gold”, a project that dealt with the industrialization of water in Los Angeles, I was exposed to the various facets of the oil industry in California. So the connection between crude oil and synthetic dyes only became more apparent in my idea.

Oil #001, Mulholland's Gold, 2011-2014

Oil #001, Mulholland’s Gold, 2011-2014

The process behind “Sweet Tooth” was to place the candy that I was familiar with as a child and young adult, into an industrial backdrop. So I began with making rough sketches on paper to get the initial ideas down.

Good and Plenty Sketch, Pen on Paper, 2014

Good and Plenty Sketch, Pen on Paper, 2014

I would then scan and enhance these sketches in Photoshop to figure out the composition and color schemes.

Good and Plenty Schematic, Digital Rendering, 2014

Good and Plenty Schematic, Digital Rendering, 2014

Once I have finalized the schematic I set about building and painting the dioramas using household goods, broken or used model kits, architectural model building materials and synthetic paints mostly derived from crude oil.

Good and Plenty Diorama, 2015

Good and Plenty Diorama, 2015

Some of these dioramas measured up to 4 to 5 feet in height, width and/or depth, before I photographed them and progressed into post-production to create the final image and print.

Good and Plenty, Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

Good and Plenty, Sweet Tooth Series, 2014-2016

The most challenging aspect to making my art is in how to rethink my fascination with the sublime in contemporary society, and translate this into a unique visual that can continue to attract and engage the viewer in a necessary dialogue about our time.

If you are interested in learning more about my works and background please visit my website www.neilmarcello.com. You can also connect with me on Instagram @neilmarcello and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/neil.marcello/


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Neil’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Neil’s piece, “Good and Plenty, The Sweet Tooth Series”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jenn Libby

Jenn’s artwork is on view in “Alternative Photographic Process”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I’m an artist who has worked primarily with the wet-plate collodion photo process since 2005.  Invented in 1851, wet-plate collodion was used to make ambrotypes, tintypes, glass negatives, and lantern slides.  It was the predominant photo process for several decades and was used to document the American Civil War.  This challenging process requires a darkroom on hand because the photographic plate stays wet during the exposure and must be developed immediately.

Self-portrait in Hungerford Studio, 2016, ruby ambrotype

Self-portrait in Hungerford Studio, 2016, ruby ambrotype

I learned (and later taught) the wet-plate process at the Visual Studies Workshop when I was working on my MFA in visual studies.  I’m from the U.P. [Upper Peninsula of Michigan] originally but I’ve lived most of my life in Rochester, NY, a city rich with photographic history and resources.  My interest in creating photographic objects is what led to my interest in learning the versatile collodion process.

The Cluttered House, Collodion positive transparency, 2005

The Cluttered House, 2005, collodion positive transparencies in jars

My thesis exhibition, The Cluttered House, included collodion images on glass in jars of water.  I didn’t know how long they would survive but I still have a number of the jars with the images still intact 12 years later.  My more recent work, Record, is made up of many tintype photograms mounted and displayed in vintage film developing hangers. While less sculptural than my jars, there is still a more tactile quality than photographs on paper.

Installation view of Record, 2011, Tintypes in film developing hangers

Installation view of Record, 2011, Tintypes in film developing hangers

I started making photograms in the darkroom with the wet-plate process during the winter months because of lack of natural light for in-camera work, before I had started shooting with artificial lights.  I could use the light from my enlarger to create these camera-less images.  When I saw the results I was hooked. Unlike a cyanotype or gelatin silver photogram, the trace or shadow of the object appears black instead of white.  Shadowy figures and objects emerge from the ether, and developing imperfections create a background with texture and depth.

Cowboy, 2011, Tintype

Cowboy, 2011, tintype

Like many artists, I’m a collector.  My work explores memory and the impulse to (re)collect.  Almost all of my artwork (I also make artists’ books and small gauge films) starts with objects and images in my collection.  The Cluttered House installation grew out of three objects I took from an abandoned house many years ago—a cigar box, an old children’s book, and a young woman’s diary.  For Record, I started recording bones, toys, glass items and other natural and man-made objects—small fragments of the 20th century.

Kodak, 2011, tintype

Kodak, 2011, tintype

The photogram of a translucent blue vinyl 45rpm record (with the aptly named track, Holiday on Mars) was the image in Record that led to my next series, Seeing is Forgetting.  I began making square photogram tintypes using primarily round objects, many of which were glass.  The images in Record are generally identifiable objects.  With Seeing is Forgetting I am transitioning into the abstract and hoping the viewer will look at the image and not at the object that I recorded.

Record (Holiday on Mars), 2011, tintype

Record (Holiday on Mars), 2011, tintype

I liked these tiny celestial and cellular looking images and an old map cabinet was the perfect place to encase them.  It speaks of collections, particularly those used for study, education, and display. I am very much influenced by cabinets of curiosity, the precursors to our modern day museums and archives.  What drives people to collect?  What drives them to record their lives?

Seeing is Forgetting, 2014, tintypes in map cabinet

Seeing is Forgetting, 2014, tintypes in map cabinet

I was curious to see how these images would look enlarged.  I printed out a 16”x16” test print and liked it, but decided it needed to be bigger.  I ended up having six of the images printed as 30” x 30” ink jet prints and incorporating them into the series with the map cabinet.  I love the intimacy of the small objects, but I also find the large prints to be exciting in a different way.  By changing the scale I remove the image further from the object that made it.  Oddly, with these large prints, I found myself moving away from remembering and into being present.

#3, 2014, inkjet print

#3, 2014, inkjet print

Here are a few images to illustrate my wet-plate shooting process.

In this first image I am pouring collodion onto a thoroughly cleaned and polished piece of black glass.

Pouring the plate

Next, I take the plate into the darkroom and put it in a bath of silver nitrate.  It will stay here for 3-4 minutes as the plate becomes sensitized.

Sensitizing the plate

Sensitizing the plate

I take the sensitized plate, now in a light-tight plate holder, to my 8×10 camera to make the photograph.

Inserting plate holder

Inserting plate holder

After making my exposure I take the plate back into the darkroom to develop it.

Developing the plate

Developing the plate

After developing and rinsing I can take the plate into the light to fix it.  After fixing, the plate will be thoroughly rinsed, dried, and varnished.

Fixing the plate

Fixing the plate

As for my physical studio space, I’ve been in transition since last summer.  After spending a few years working out of the Hungerford building, I decided to convert my garage into a new studio.  It’s a beautiful space with a large darkroom, lots of natural light, and access to the outdoors.  I forgot to mention that the collodion process is sensitive to ultraviolet light and it is a slow process akin to a film speed of ISO 1, which means it requires a lot of UV light.  Shooting outdoors is often the ideal option.  I’m really looking forward to spring and starting new work in my new space!


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jenn’s artwork in “Alternative Photographic Process” (runs February 25–March 31, 2017). Visit her website at www.jennlibby.com for more information on Jenn’s wet-plate portrait studio and workshops. Follow Jenn on Instagram @geneseelibby and like her Facebook page at Genesee Libby Studio.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by photographer Ian Sherlock.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ian Sherlock

Ian’s artwork is on view in “Alternative Photographic Process”. His work is available for purchase in our Online Shop:
store.mainstreetartsgallery.com


I make photographs, sounds, and drawings centered around the land. I studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Syracuse University in Upstate New York where I earned my BFA in Fine Art Photography. Upon graduating, I worked as a professional printmaker at Lightwork and have recently made the move to further my understanding of “natural” environments by leaving for a job with the Boy Scouts of America in the Green Mountains. I play in a punk band, run for lengths of time that cause my organs to fail, and make art from time to time.

Self

Photography is the medium I work in most for my art.  I am always seeking calmness and stillness and photography aids in the preservation of this quality. It creates tranquility, which is something I appreciate. I photograph primarily in black and white as I like the simplicity of only looking at/for light, shadow, and contrast versus color relationships. Working in greyscale also removes the image from reality even further, as I am not interested in documentation but rather using photographs to describe and evoke feelings, moods, and metaphors.

photo

Most of my images are shot on film as it elevates the medium to the same level of preciousness as the subjects that I am photographing. This process slows me down, makes me think more completely, and allows me to spend more time looking at and interacting with landscapes or subjects versus firing the shutter blindly. Post-image making, film allows me the ability to make prints by hand, in a more intuitive and intimate fashion. Working in the darkroom engages my hands and helps to synchronize mind and body in the same way my other practices like running do.

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Photography’s other strength is that it can exist on paper, as opposed to mediums like sculpture or video. Prints are tangible and can either be considered disposable or precious merely by their presentation. In particular, photo books have an incredible ability to encapsulate a completed work that a photographer is trying to express. This is appealing to me as I like projects that have a definitive conclusion.

A photo book can also evoke a certain sense of preciousness and intimacy. Looking at a book is usually a more private experience and it is on the terms of the viewer.

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My creative interests originated in my early involvement in the punk scene. While the “Do It Yourself” ethics of punk fundamentally aid in all of my endeavors, they are displayed most explicitly in my sound art. I hesitate to consider my sound pieces “music”, but the aggression, tension and vulnerability that is present in my work stems very much from the punk music I grew up immersed in and continue to listen to today. My introduction to sound art has also allowed me to interact with an entirely different audience, as I am able to share this category of my work at concerts with people unfamiliar with or uninterested in contemporary visual art.

sound

Like in my other mediums, interaction with the land is crucial in my sound art. I usually start with an experience in a “natural” environment or use field recordings from a place. I then utilize synthesizers, various re-purposed pedals, contact microphones on objects and cassettes to add an atmosphere that I feel best represents the feelings I have in those spaces that is not necessarily there to record.

I am growing increasingly interested in the relationship between sound and image and how I can better blend the two mediums into a synonymous and singular project.

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I don’t have a studio per say, at least not in a physical form. Much of my time thinking, reflecting, and conceptualizing is done while running. To me, running is very much the same as art making. While I run to come up with ideas to make art about, sometimes the run itself is the action and resolution to those thoughts or feelings. It is a medium of equal importance and possibility as a visual or sonic art. The meditative repetition and direct interaction with the land puts me in a deep inner space where I can reflect and conceptualize. I also race in events called ultra-marathons; which consist of distances that are longer than marathons. When I push myself to these limits, I feel a unique form of vulnerability and explore parts of my own mind that I feel are unreachable otherwise.

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ac13 004

The project I have most recently concluded is called “Dearheart”. “Dearheart” represents my personal fantasies of escapism, and an understanding of our society’s universal fascination with this idea as well. More specifically, I’m interested in the evidence of how this notion of escapism has manifested physically in the landscape itself, transformed in the wake of our endeavors to be transported, and to escape. The land has similar desires to us when it comes to escaping, solitude, and the act of hiding. I believe my consideration of this relationship creates a stronger connection between myself and the spaces I occupy. The process of making these images is an attempt at better understanding this relationship and I hope to translate my efforts to others the best that I am able.

ac13 001


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Ian Sherlock’s artwork in “Alternative Photographic Process” (runs February 25–March 31, 2017). Visit Ian’s website at www.ian-sherlock.com and follow him on Instagram @iansherlockxvx. You can email Ian at iansherlockxvx@gmail.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester artist Rachel Cordaro.

Carl Chiarenza: The Opposite of Concrete

Photographer Carl Chiarenza is one of five artists who will exhibit abstract artwork in our upcoming exhibition at Main Street Arts, The Opposite of Concrete.

Carl Chiarenza, Somerville 10, 1976

Carl Chiarenza, Somerville 10, 1976

Chiarenza recently showed his work at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center as part of their Makers & Mentors exhibit. In an interview for the show, A Conversation with Carl Chiarenza, Carl covers everything from how he began taking photographs to his opinions on the art world’s preoccupation with money.

Carl Chiarenza’s unique perspective on photography, collage, and abstraction itself is one of the strengths of our upcoming exhibition here at Main Street Arts.

Carl Chiarenza, Noumenon 148, 1987

Carl Chiarenza, Noumenon 148, 1987

The Opposite of Concrete features 5 different approaches to making abstract imagery through painting and photography by Carl Chiarenza, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, Patricia Wilder, and Bradley Butler (gallery director at Main Street Arts).

Carl Chiarenza, Rossini, 2013

Carl Chiarenza, Rossini, 2013

Check our Upcoming Exhibitions page or our Facebook page for updates.

Exhibition Dates: September 6–November 1, 2014

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 4 to 7 p.m.