The Clouds: Experiments in Perception
April 9, 2013–June 2, 2013
Opening reception April 11, 2013
Members talk Stephan Sagmiller 6:15 April 11, 2013
In a project that questions the definition of nature, Stephan Sagmiller juxtaposes photographs of painted skies from dioramas at the Natural History Museum with actual skies photographed throughout the United States.
A series of his images, Clouds: Experiments in Perception, is featured in the Griffin Gallery of the Griffin Museum April 9 through June 2. An opening reception with the artist is April 11, 7-8:30 p.m.
“It is often the case that individuals define nature vis-à-vis photographs, paintings, and simulations over their own independent observation,” Sagmiller says.
He says his juxtaposition of painted and actual skies “unsettles the landscape, opening up space for the viewer to reflect.”
“When I put together the skies in the museum and the skies out in the world, they collapsed into one another,” Sagmiller explains. “I saw no reason to continue to delineate between reality and artifice as I had in my previous bodies of work.
“All the clouds I experienced – whether natural phenomena or painted artifice – became equally important. My images were simply fragments of other fragments. No fragment was more authoritative than any other fragment: together they formed a compelling personal collection.”
Sagmiller adds, “It is not possible to entirely untangle the concept of nature from landscape photography, the history of painting, or the romantic ideals often embedded in these forms of representation. However, even a small rupture opens up the possibility for reflection and questioning: What is nature? What do we know about nature? How do we know what we know?”
Sagmiller is a photographer and educator based in New York City. He has a master of fine arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.
He gives a gallery talk for museum members at 6:15 p.m. April 11, prior to the opening reception for all exhibits.
For this show, the Griffin created an exhibition catalog. It is available in the museum’s online gift shop. It is one of many upcoming Griffin Museum of Photography publications. All books are being designed by Meg Birnbaum.