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On Exhibit
Sky Riffs
SKY RIFFS came out of a two-year photographic study of the sky over Seattle. In the course of a day, Seattle skies offer abundantly rich images for photographic exploration: multi-layered clouds skidding across the sky, patches of blue with rays of sunshine breaking forth, a smattering of rain blown in on windy gusts, low-lying clouds rimmed by an amber horizon, and some days clouds hanging overhead with a steady rain giving credence to Seattle's reputation for unremitting gloom.

In her first year of weekly expeditions, Elinor Powicke explored technical and compositional issues, finding a film to give sharpness in detail with a range wide enough to reveal the luminosity of sky and the texture of landscape. In her second year, while working on a technical issue, Powicke arrived at the solution to a problem of composition: by focusing on one scene over the course of a day, she recognized that the continually changing sky revealed a dynamic landscape, bringing rhythm and synthesis to a previously fragmented approach.

During this time Powicke was influenced by an encounter with the complexities of Chinese landscape painting, particularly that of the artist Huang Binhong (1864-1955). Impressed by the density of brushstrokes in Huang's landscapes, she felt an affinity for what appeared initially awkward, but resolved into complex and rewarding compositions. Huang Binhong's work gave her courage to pursue her own sense of composition, avoiding simplistic solutions to landscape representation, working in her own way through unconventional and unrelenting eyes.

Elinor Powicke was born in Toronto in 1954. She received technical, historical, and creative training in photography at Ryerson Polytechnical University in Toronto. She worked on portraiture as a member of a photographers' cooperative, Gallery 44, culminating in a group exhibition in 1986 focusing on the gallery's immediate neighborhood and the residents' struggle to deal with the legacy of lead pollution from a nearby smelter. In 1991, her Plum Island Landscapes were exhibited at the Firehouse, a performing arts center in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and at the Newburyport Library. Uncommon Grounds in Seattle exhibited her photographs in 1999.

SKY RIFFS catches a moment, and then another, and then another in the whole symphony that is the movement of the changing sky. Powicke's series of photographs, though each is a moment unto itself, encourages the viewer's participation, the use of one's imagination in what has occurred between captured moments, in the same way that the Chinese artist allows his brushwork to flow off the paper inviting the viewer to connect his spirit to that of the universe. The exhibition consists of 18 colored images, 18 x 18 inches.

© 2000 Copyright for China 2000 Fine Art