Susan Wides’ ‘this: seasons’ at Kim Foster Gallery

Art Scene

Susan Wides’ ‘this: seasons’ at Kim Foster Gallery

In an age where corporate mindfulness as a business strategy and the corporatization of yoga are drastically altering what it means to be present, a pleasing series of photographs by Susan Wides simplifies the task with the help of nature. Her images, on view in the exhibition this: seasons at Kim Foster Gallery, are a stunning reminder of the medicinal effect of a meandering walk in the park.

However, in the case of Wides, the wilderness in question is Kaaterskill Clove, a deep valley in New York’s eastern Catskill Mountains and the same site of inspiration for the Hudson River School artists, a mid-19th century American art movement. Foster’s process, in terms of making the photos for this series, is deeply embedded in being present. The images translate an experience of being inside of prolonged moments with perceptive awareness. To that end, there is no digital manipulation or post-production work done on the images. They are all made through lens work that plays with depth of field, blur, focus and abstraction, using color, light, and nature as a language.

The effect of Wides’ artistic approach is a sensory reminder of the full body intensity of looking and receiving that happens through conscious immersion in nature when the mind is quiet and prefers to behold and imbibe its surroundings. Wides’ photographs divide the picture plane of each image into both blurred and sharply focused areas that are never the same twice. The technique echoes the multiple levels of perception that occur simultaneously when one is deeply engaged in their environment.

While Wides’ use of depth of field plays with space, her light choices use light and shadow, lens flare, sun streaks, and light patterns to filter and demarcate swatches of color. Soft focus and its interplay with the foreground, middleground, and background in any given image create a continuity in the series. However, each image deals in the specificity of a particular aspect of natural phenomena: a snow white birch tree, pink blossoms, a forest green canopy, slate grey stone, midnight blue rippling water, or translucent riverspray. Regardless of the subject, each photograph cascades off the image frame, undoubtedly enticing the memory of anyone who has spent an extended amount of time in nature. For those who have not, a mysterious allure can be drawn from the images contemporary feel.

One aspect of Wides’ images that is tied to our ever evolving technological world, is her printing process. The dye sublimation images are created through a heating process that bonds the photographs onto metal, a method that does not require the presentation of the image under glass, and one that will retain the vibrancy of the living moments immortalized in Wides’ photographs.

Susan Wides this: seasons is on view through December 22, 2017.