Cove St. Arts in Portland Presents “The Light We Share,” curated by Bruce Brown, features the work of five photographers working in Midcoast Maine: Paul Caponigro, Dirk McDonnell, Ni Rong, Eleanor Owen Kerr, and Anna Mikuskova.
Paul Caponigro, renowned as one of America’s most significant photographers, rather than merely arranging or recording forms and surface details, utilizes an intuitive focus. The result is his exceptional ability to engage the viewer in the mystical, whether in nature or in man-made monuments like Stonehenge.
For Dirk McDonnell, “to photograph is simply an act of taking notes of things: to be actively attentive as you navigate the uncertainties of the terrain. It is to be simultaneously arrested by something and, through the uncomplicated gesture of exposure, to arrest it.” McDonnell’s finished images convey those mysteries that originally arrested him, leading the viewer to navigate the landscape as he must have in creating the image.
Ni Rong’s work is instantly recognizable as she appears in it. Regularly wearing Asian dress in a Maine setting, Rong explores what it means to have lived in two very different cultures – China for the first half of her life and Maine for the second. Perhaps accordingly, such studies in contrast are the only color photographs in the exhibition.
Eleanor Owen Kerr, who spends half her time in Louisiana and the other half in Maine, creates images of both contrasting locales. However, rather than highlight the differences, Kerr’s contemplative focus captures more of the similarities shared across space.
Similarly, Anna Mikuskova’s photographs span geographic space – from Alaska to Maine to Ireland and the Czech Republic – yet they share an unmistakable approach to place and sensitivity to light. She captures a quality of light shared across both time and geography, a known light, key to photography.
Living and working in the same geographic area, each photographer’s work often shares the same literal light, Maine’s rich, spectacular light – a light that has drawn artists to this state for over two centuries. The work of the five photographers featured, even when not so geographically limited in subject matter, also shares metaphorical light, the light of our world illuminated through photography.