Arts Desk

Reviewed: “Next at the Corcoran: Class of 2012”

Apparently, photography isn’t dead. For the second year in a row, the graduating exhibition for the Corcoran College of Art and Design features a wealth of photography. Several series deal with rural or small-town life. Ethan Browning has produced a crisp, Coen Brothers-esque series of images of life in Frankenmuth, Mich., a predominantly German town. Kaitlin Jencso offers vignettes of southern Maryland, where she grew up, finding curly patterns seemingly everywhere, from sprigs of ivy to fragments of straw to twirls of hair. Amy Chmara takes moody, introspective approach to photographing rural settings, including a dreamy image of a hand holding a feather set against a seascape, while Aaron Canipe documents the area of North Carolina where he grew up, including a stunning image (above) of a mobile home at dusk, limned in hues of magenta, yellow, green, cyan and fire red. Other media have their place in the exhibit, notably Bianka Groves’ long, carefully arranged collection of porcelain and stoneware in bone and black (below); Anne O’Neill’s monumental, wall-hung portrait of a woman made from crinkly-textured mixed media; Melissa Marrier’s rendering of an eye using what appear to be a repeated, insect-shaped ink-stamp; and Zoe Kudrnac’s brainy sendup of religion, designing intricately crafted icons featuring animals and the visage of Charles Darwin. But the exhibit features two standouts. Scott Eldridge documents a 90-year-old man on the precipice between living independently and with assistance; Eldridge uses a pinhole camera that demands long exposures, which are then projected on a rectangle of frosted glass. The exposures—borrowing conceptually from Michael Wesely’s impressive long-exposure studies—fit his subject matter perfectly, showing a largely sedentary man often surrounded by swooshes of movement too quick to be captured by the camera. The other standout, Cherish Pennington, offers a remarkably simple yet mesmerizing visual conceit—a couple sheets of cellophane hanging from the ceiling, facing a narrowly targeted light source. The light reflects back on the wall as a shimmering, constantly changing form. The works by both Eldridge and Pennington are all about capturing light in inspired ways – as elemental and timeless a theme as you can hope for in an exhibit of a new generation of artists.

The exhibition is on view 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to May 20 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 7th St. NW. Free.

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