A ‘surreal’ exploration of photography’s potential

by Keith Barber

Kimberly Varnadoe has a wealth of experience pushing the Greene and Dennis are local artists who have exhibited extensively in boundaries of modern art. Her preferred medium is photog- the area. However, for Voynova, a native of Ukraine, Surreal Exposure raphy. A studio art professor at Salem College, Varnadoe has marks her first US show. Garland described Voynova as “an awesome been working with Polaroid films for several years, com- young talent,” who utilizes a 35mm camera to create “thought-provok- bining emulsion lifts with other alternative processes to create unique works that have a surreal quality. So it’s only fitting that Varnadoe curated the Surreal Exposure exhibit currently on display at 5IVE & 40RTY gallery in Winston-Salem.

Varnadoe and fellow artists Mariya Voynova, Cameron Dennis and Diana Greene will be honored at a closing reception on Friday from 5:40 p.m. to 7:40 p.m. at the gallery’s Trade Street location.

Varnadoe’s “Sister’s Stairwell” is a creation of the artist’s 20-by-24 Polaroid camera and her unique photo-emulsion lift technique. Varnadoe derives her bliss from exploring the application of instant films to create dreamlike subject matter.

Varnadoe offered a sneak peek at her new photo-emulsion technique during a show at Artworks Gallery in downtown Winston-Salem last summer. In her work, “Watching Over: Yellow Angel,” Varnadoe created a three-dimensional effect due by lifting one print several inches above the other. The photograph appeared different from every angle, giving it enormous presence and creating the illusion of a hologram.

“The art of photography is constantly and rapidly changing, and as a result very few artists practice film photography today,” Varnadoe said. “Within the next few years, film photographers will be considered rare in the visual art field.”

Certainly with the advent of digital technology, the old ways of creating photographs have gone out of fashion. But Varnadoe, an accomplished photographer with more than 20 years experience, believes in ing, contemplative and analytical” work.

Voynova’s inclination to present images that are not in sharp focus provides “space for imagination,” allowing viewers to create their own dreamlike images through remembrance. Voynova said she also enjoys doing street photography because it “helps connect with the situation and people and being attentive to every moment of life.”

Cameron Dennis’ Ink Spill series, described as “fleeting liquid patterns captured photographically,” is one of the more minimalist works in the exhibit. Dennis brings more than 30 years of experience as an exhibiting photographer. The Ink Spill series could be compared to a set of Rorschach inkblots with great latitude for interpretation.

Diana Greene’s “Wake Up Before Dying” is representative of her fascinating series that features movement and ambiguity of transition inform in each individual work.

“Nothing is completely still,” said Greene. “There’s reverberation in the tossed and the turned, the papers and the milkweed, and there’s a figure in the midst. What is happening? I don’t know how to answer that other than to say something — something is happening and, it seems, something else is also about to happen.”

Greene said she’s discovered a link between language and the visual world, which offers the “scaffolding” underlying her photographs.

“These lines are an invitation to conjure and explore,” she said. And art lovers are encouraged to explore “Surreal Exposure” before time runs out on this marvelous exhibit.