EDUCATOR'S GUIDE: SEA CHANGE, The Seascape in Contemporary Photography

DISCUSSING AND INTERPRETING THE PHOTOGRAPHS

These images of the open sea invite contemplation of an enduring but vulnerable natural presence that is a continuing source of personal, visual and historical experiences. The exhibiting artists have varying connections to the sea, and each approaches the subject with unique intentions and results. Have your students explore exhibition images for details that raise these and other issues:

Ocean memories and experiences. Discuss ocean memories, expectations, and experiences, real and imagined. Are there physical features in your environment that relate to the sea's vastness, swelling waves, or quickly changing surface and moods?


Liz Deschenes 
Color Study #11, 1994-95
UVlaminated incorporated color coupler prints mounted on glass
Courtesy of the artist 
©1998 Liz Deschenes

The changing sea. The ocean's powerful and changing presence--calm and sunny one moment, dark and stormy, or wind-tossed the next, affects both how people relate to it and their state of mind while walking by it, swimming in it, surfing, or sailing. Discuss the ability of the ocean's presence to evoke meditative, awe-inspiring, frightening, nostalgic, and other feelings.


John McWilliams 
Gray Backs, 1991
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the artist and Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta
©1998 John McWilliams 

Ocean cultures. Ocean-oriented cultures and occupations such as fishermen, coastal dwellers, surfers, swimmers, tourists, oil riggers, sailors, oceanographers, marine biologists, and environmentalists view the sea differently. Consider these roles and each person's relationship to the ocean while exploring exhibition images.

The sea today. The sea is also viewed differently today from past times. For the first time in history, the sea is endangered by pollution, coastal development, and overuse of its resources. A point verbalized by many of the exhibition artists is that while they are still in awe of the vastness, power, and beauty of the sea, they have also witnessed its abuse and are aware of its vulnerability.

A sense of time. Some images, such as those by Liz Deschenes and Michael O'Brien,  have a spontaneous or immediate feel. Iain Stewart's photographs evoke a sense of timelessness, and Tom Baril's suggest a time past. How have the artists achieved this? For example, what view of the scene, weather conditions, and time of day have they chosen? Where was the artist standing when the photograph was taken? Does the color or toning of the work contribute to its sense of time?


Iain Stewart
Rhythm iii, 1997
Incorporated color coupler print
Collection of the Center for Creative Photography,
The University of Arizona
©1998 Iain Stewart

A sense of place. As viewers, are we distanced from the scene or enveloped by it? How is this achieved? For instance, Randy West applies a layer of graphite to the surface of his prints, thus somewhat concealing the scene and distancing us. Stuart Klipper sometimes lies flat on the deck of his boat while photographing so that, as viewers, we can sense the waves swelling around and above us.
 

Randy West
Untitled Seascape #4, 1992
Photo linen, graphite
Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York
©1998 Randy West
 
 
 

CONTENTS | CURATOR'S OVERVIEW | THE SEA IN ART
SEA CHANGE ARTISTS, A TO L | SEA CHANGE ARTISTS, M TO Y
DISCUSSING AND INTERPRETING THE PHOTOGRAPHS | OCEAN FACTS | BIBLIOGRAPHY
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http://www.creativephotography.org    This page last updated July 26, 1999.   oncenter@ccp.library.arizona.edu


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