Monday, January 27, 2014

Sandi Dooley reviews Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Selections from the Architect's Brother Series, #1

On January 24, 2014, I visited Trinity University to view nineteen images from Selections from the Architect's Brother Series, by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, who use environmental performances, photomontage, sculpture, photography, painting, and printmaking to make their images. Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison are a married couple who have worked together for almost 20 years. Their works are exhibited at Trinity as part of the University's Stieren Arts Enrichment Series, located in the Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery in the Dicke Art Building. The images poetically depict the impact of man and technology on the environment, using the photogravure process. 

To view the rest of the images from the Architect's Brother, as well as other work from Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, see their outstanding website, ROBERT AND SHANNA PARKEHARRISON. There is a section of the website with Selected Articles and Reviews. In one of the articles, by Jonathan Stead, from Ag, The International Journal of Photographic Art and Practice, Spring 2011|Number 63, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison were generous in sharing how they conceptualized and made the Architect's Brother images. Steade describes what we imagine to be a "post-apocalyptic world", where there is a  "character called 'Everyman' (Robert) who seems to be endlessly attempting to mend the broken landscape that he alone inhabits". My favorite image was Exhausted Globe, gravure, bee's wax, 1997, where Robert is squatting on old pieces of lumber, leaning against the sky, attempting to repair the sky while perched on an earth that looks like a twine and stick wrapped heart, belching clouds. The sets in these images were researched, well planned, and illustrated extensively before building. Adjustments were carefully made along the way. 

When Steade briefly describes Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison's processes in his article, it is apparent that making one of these images was quite complicated. He describes a process of using paper negatives, paper positives, drawing, and contact printing, collaging separate images together, where they were able to get the individual elements just right. After that, he describes a painting process with many layers of washes.

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