With the rise of digital photography, an increasing number of contemporary artists are turning to historical processes to create unique handmade photographic objects. Working independently, Rhode Island artists Lindsey Beal and Ron Cowie each use nineteenth century processes to explore contemporary issues. In this manner, their work reflects the Newport Art Museum, an institution in historical buildings that brings together works of art form the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.
For her Venus Series, Beal uses a variety of historical processes, including ambrotype and alumitype to represent her paper sculptures that are inspired by Paleolithic “Venus Figurines” discovered in Europe and the Middle East in the nineteenth-century. In so doing, she re-creates the mystery and power of these female figurines that elude art historians.
Using a large format camera, Ron Cowie prints his photographs in platinum, a process championed by nineteenth-century art photographers. His series Leaving Babylon consists of metaphorical landscapes that explore the psychological terrain of, in the artist’s words, “how we live in faith and fear.” For his series Inventory, Cowie photographed possessions belong to his wife, who passed away in 2008, as a way to remember her and to move forward.
Lindsey Beal lives in Providence and teaches at Rhode Island School of Design and Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Ron Cowie lives in Wakefield teaches at the New England School of Photography in Boston.
Exhibition overview from museum website