Exhibition challenges our perception by altering the photographers' original intent

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Exhibition challenges our perception by altering the photographers' original intent
John W Carlson, Birth.

CLEVELAND, OH.- Destruction of Form, an exhibition & collaboration by Shari Wilkins and John W. Carlson which challenges our perception by altering the photographers’ original intent, opened at The Cleveland Print Room on July 24.

The gallery showing at the Cleveland Print Room isn’t just about vernacular — or found — photography. It’s not about new, fresh fine-art photography either.

It is, however, about deconstructing one piece of art and creating another. The Destruction of Form collaborative effort — featuring CPR founder Shari Wilkins and American Emotionalist artist John W. Carlson — opened July 24.

In Summer 2014, the pair began their collaboration using vernacular photography as inspiration. Carlson violates the original photographers’ intent by altering the concepts of the images in his accompanying paintings and drawings, while Wilkins alters the surface of the photos' original form and reconstructs images.

“We’ve altered the original photograph’s premise,” said Carlson. “It may be presumptuous of me to know the purpose of the photo, but when the premise of the photo is destroyed it becomes an entirely new piece of art. A lot of this is about perception.”

Artists John W. Carlson and Shari Wilkins on the origin of the work they created for their Destruction of Form collaborative effort:

Carlson says he became fascinated with vernacular photography after seeing the Cleveland Print Room's Lost & Found exhibition last summer. "I was curious as to the motives behind the shots of of the unknown, amateur photographers who took photographs of everyday life and common things as subjects. Initially, Shari showed me photos that had strange compositions and over the top gestures in which I sought clues to their meaning." Every anonymous photograph provides the viewer with limited information and context. Things aren't always as they seem. So using vernacular images as inspiration, Carlson destroys the original photographer's intent by altering the concepts of the images in his accompanying paintings and drawings transforming the work. This exhibition takes this concept one step further by including the influential original photograph alongside Carlson's new creation.

In this exhibition, Shari was inspired by the vernacular photography that she collects. "My work is my attempt to grasp the significance of our existence. Last spring at the Hidden Mother exhibition at CPR, my piece for the show was a memorial to my mother by proving her existence through my photographs of her personal effects, which included shots of her actual ponytail, her false teeth and her wedding suit. The body and body parts are also important to my process. In this show the work also focuses on the body, inside and out, as I use x-rays in the photobooth as well." By incorporating her obsession with found photos and combining it with alternative processes Shari strives to understand objective reality. Motivated by the collected imagery she finds, along with detailed family documents, photographs, x-rays and ephemera she combines vernacular photography with new instant photography images creating Polaroid, large-scale photograms and photobooth work. In some cases, she then alters these images by blowing them up.

John W. Carlson, self-proclaimed American Emotionalist, believes that art should be visceral in nature, attempting to avoid lengthy explanations of relevance and cheap sensationalism.

The exhibition runs from July 24 through Aug. 28.

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