SFCC’s Visual Arts Gallery presents ‘Southwest Monochromes – A collection of black and white photographs by Jim Wysong’

The virtual exhibition opens online at 4 p.m. June 25 and continues through Aug.12

Santa Fe Community College’s Visual Arts Gallery presents a virtual online exhibition, ‘Southwest Monochromes – A collection of black and white photographs by Jim Wysong’ that will be available to view beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, June 25 and ending on Thursday, Aug 12. Visit https://www.sfcc.edu/southwest-monochromes/ to see the exhibit.

 The SFCC Campus and the college’s Visual Arts Gallery are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

SFCC Visual Arts Gallery Director Linda Cassel said, “We’re delighted to showcase the stunning and evocative black and white photographs taken by SFCC Dean, Jim Wysong, who is working so hard to nurture the arts programs at the college.”

James (Jim) Wysong, Ed.D., oversees academic operations at SFCC in the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Arts, Design, and Media Arts. Before he joined the college in 2020, he was a frequent visitor to New Mexico. His love for photography, geology and the outdoors drew him to the state. The opportunity to join the leadership team at SFCC has afforded Dr. Wysong the ability to combine his passions, pursuing his academic career here in the land that he loves.

Artist Statement – ‘Southwest Monochromes’

My grandmother bought me my first camera when I was eight years old. I quickly became fascinated with photography, and soon built my first darkroom in my clothes closet. In high school, I refined my techniques and benefitted greatly from the instruction and mentorship of my photography teacher, Mr. Patrick Rose. With his help and guidance, I was able to submit my work to regional and national competitions, winning several prestigious awards. Foregoing a scholarship to art school, I chose another academic pathway, which led to a career in higher education. Now after many years, life has returned me to the arts as the Dean of the School of Arts, Design, and Media Arts at Santa Fe Community College. Little did I know all those years ago, that those seemingly divergent roads would meet again here in Santa Fe.

My work for this show features black and white images of the Southwest, primarily taken in New Mexico and the Four Corners region. My challenge was to remove the vivid colors, which while beautiful, can sometimes mask the underlying richness of the forms and textures of this region. I also hoped to recreate the feel of the iconic images of the West taken in the early Twentieth Century. Those photographs, often featured in magazines and railroad marketing materials, created what I call, “The West of the Imagination.” In an ironic twist, the “Real West” often bent to conform to the expectations these images created, reinforcing the fantasies and fallacies in a strange feedback loop.

To achieve the look that I desired for most of my photographs, I employed a minimum of image processing. I primarily relied on the use of a polarizing filter, then subsequently desaturated the photographs and slightly boosted the contrast. I feel that the results are reminiscent of the images made years ago using Panatomic-X film with a yellow Wratten filter.

I love this land for its beauty and majesty. I also have a deep respect and affinity for the Native People of this area, and for the traces left behind by their ancestors. There is an aesthetic quality manifest in their art and architecture that speaks to elements that resonate across cultures. Capturing this is meant to honor and memorialize, not exploit. The same is true for the images of more recent places of worship. Simple or grand, these are places that reflect the devotion and spirituality of those who built them.

Finally, I make no apology for my love of trains. The history of the West is inextricably tied to the railroads. Since childhood, I have been captivated by photographs of trains operating against the rugged backdrop of the Southwest. My attempt to recreate the look of these photographs from the past has resulted in some of the images you see exhibited.

As a young man, I had the privilege to attend a talk by Ansel Adams at a workshop in California. His parting words were powerful. He told us that in the end, photography is about two people seeing something. The photographer sees the image he wishes to make, the viewer sees what the photographer offers him. They may not see the same thing, but a good photograph stands a chance of pleasing both. I hope that some of these images may please you in some way.

– Jim Wysong

Of Note: Very limited access to the exhibition at Visual Arts Gallery is available by appointment only. For more information about the gallery or to make an appointment, please contact SFCC’s Director of Art on Campus Linda Cassel at linda.cassel@sfcc.edu or 505-428-1501.

Santa Fe Community College celebrates its 40th Anniversary as the pathway to success for individuals and the community. SFCC provides affordable, high-quality programs that serve the academic, cultural, and economic needs of the community. The college welcomes over 10,000 students per year in credit, noncredit, workforce training, personal enrichment, and adult programs.
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Visit sfcc.edu or call 505-428-1000.

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