Join us on Saturday, September 7th, 3 – 5 pm to see and celebrate the works created by 2019 Red Lion Inn Artist-in-Residence John Clarke.
Clarke, a Berkshire-based artist whose primary medium is photography, has been exploring the blurred experience of long exposures for many years. During his residency he used the common spaces of the inn to create ethereal and contemplative portraits of both space and time. In these images Clarke invites the viewer to contemplate our experience of seeing and to explore a different vision of a common and shared world.
The residency is in partnership with IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, whose mission is increasing access to the visual arts for all.
About the Artist
John Clarke has lived in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts since 2007. He was born in central Massachusetts around a landscape of mills, rivers, trains and bridges. Clarke received his degree in classical music composition from Bates College in Maine.
Clarke’s fine art work is created using a range of mediums. Oil paints, pastels, and pencil were his main tools for many years, until he expanded his practice to photography. In 2012, during an autumn hike Clarke headed out without his tripod and produced images with accidental blur. The trails of light and color appealed to the abstract line painter in him and changed the way he thought about photography. The experience established a new course for him as a visual artist.
Clarke continues to push the camera to its limits, translating photographic images into other mediums. Painting with light, his work can be mistakenly viewed as pastel or charcoal drawings. Long exposures and gestural movements with the camera blur the distinction between art forms. The creation of an image holds the excitement of unlimited potential, a chance to feel something he has never felt before.
Often described as a “renaissance man,” Clarke was front man and a primary songwriter for the band Bell Engine. He also has a solo album, All Beneath Our Train. An avid writer, he has written more than 60 short stories about his years jumping freight trains, and more recently, after the birth of his son Orrin, writes poems for children. Clarke’s work has been shown at the Berkshire Museum, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Art on Main at Barnbrook, Joyce Goldstein Gallery, Isha Nelson Gallery, Deb Koffman’s Little Gallery, and Sohn Fine Art Gallery, where he is currently represented.
About the Work
How many people a year stay in an inn like the Red Lion? How many times does a single guest walk the hallway to his or her room? How do we as humans visually experience the passing of time? What do we see when we move through space?
Cameras are able to expand our experience of what it means to see. They can see in a different way. Our eyes seem to provide us with a constant focus on the instant of now. As we walk through a space, we can quite easily focus on the immediate present, what is there at the moment of passing. Moments ago may be preserved as memory, but the eye remains focused on the immediate now. With each step down a hallway, what has passed is in the past, what is ahead remains in our current vision.
For a camera, vision is simply what the film or sensor captures while the shutter is open. A fast shutter speed captures an image much like how our eyes experience a moment in time. The moment is crystallized as a distinct image. But what happens when a camera's "eye" is open for four seconds, or eight seconds? What happens when the camera's "eye" is not only open that long, but is also moving, walking down a hallway? What kind of image is produced? What does it say about the camera's experience of time? Is it as honest and truthful as our human eye when it comes to documenting the physical act of moving through a space?
I have been exploring the blurred experience of long exposures for many years. I am fascinated by their ability to capture a view of the world so distinct from our normal visual experience as humans. A long exposure is time stacked on itself. In this series of photographs, I am playing with our common experience of seeing, using the Red Lion hallways and rooms to offer a different vision of a common and shared world.
— John Clarke