Seven States Exhibition

 |  September 18, 2012

Friday afternoon we packed up our kids and car and headed up to Madison to attend the opening reception of the Seven States exhibit of the PhotoMidwest event. Beginning in 2000, PhotoMidwest’s mission has been to showcase both historic and contemporary photography and photographers from the Upper Midwest. I am still just thrilled to have my photo-based mixed media painting “Upon the Sky” included in this exhibit.

Opening reception at PhotoMidwest, University of WI- Madison
taken on my iphone while holding a small child,
sorry for the tilt!

Originally we had planned to take a rare weekend to ourselves, but sometimes the best of plans fall through and it became a whole family trip (minus our dog). We ended up having a really nice family time up in Madison- an art exhibit Friday afternoon, then hiking on Saturday before we headed back to the big city. We’ve had such an incredibly busy summer and with kindergarten beginning just two weeks ago- it ended up being really good for all of us to escape the daily routine and just have fun together.

I am so glad that I made it to the reception. Sam Abell gave a talk in the beginning about his jurying process and how when one is a juror it exposes you to your own biases. But the thing that all the images he was drawn to had in common was that that they were living images. That they had life to them. He spoke about how a good photograph is one that cannot be memorized. That it is something that you return to again and again and it gives you something new each time. I feel the same about other artwork too. Don’t you agree?

Sam Abell talking about one of the photographs in the exhibit

The incredible thing was that Sam Abell walked through the exhibition and spoke about each piece. If the photographer was there, he would go into a bit more depth. He spoke to why he chose that piece to be included and what made it a strong photograph. He even offered suggestions to make the image stronger. It was an unexpected critique from someone I could only dream of getting feedback from!

my painting, Upon the Sky

So when it came to my turn I was on pins and needles wondering what he would say. Frankly I was, and still am, stunned that my painting is included in this exhibit because it is such a strong photography exhibit and while it is photo-based, this is a painting! I wasn’t sure what he would say. He started out by saying that while he was interested in looking at photo-based mixed media works during the jurying process, he always feels that artists or digital photographers who enhance photographs have a tendency to go a bit crazy. There are so many options, that people don’t know when to stop.

But, he said, what I want to commend you on and what compelled me about your piece and why it was included in this exhibit, was your restraint. The restraint is what makes this piece, he said. And he also said that he liked the painting even more when he saw it in person!

I am pretty sure that a light was beaming from my face while he spoke to me. I know that positive or negative feedback is just that, feedback, and that I shouldn’t let it sway me either way. Well, we tell ourselves that, right? But sometimes…well it goes straight to the heart.

Me next to my painting at the PhotoMidwest Seven States Exhibit #art #exhibit #show #mixedmedia
see, I’m beaming! ha! Or maybe I’m just hot, it got quite warm in there.
instagram photo

The other wonderful thing that came out of the exhibit was meeting photographer and artist, Vicki Reed, who is from Wisconsin. There were only two mixed media pieces in the exhibit, and hers was the other one and it was encaustic. I just love her photography and it was so nice to meet her.

photo-based encaustic painting by Vicki Reed

Go visit her site and I know you will fall in love with her work as well. If you are in Wisconsin, she has several exhibits right now in different locations. Gorgeous work. I see her photos and think, I wish I had taken that! It’s something that Sam Abell talked about too. How in his workshops, one of the assignments during the week is to have his students take one photo that makes him envious. Loved that. We all have that feeling- we’re only human. But we can allow it to motivate us rather than hinder us.

My big 2 year old who actually hiked up a steep trail at Devil’s Lake with not too many “Uppy, mama!” on the way.


  1. by Sharmon Davidson on September 18, 2012  8:28 pm Reply

    Wow, it must be incredible to have your work critiqued that way in front of all those people- scary, but also rewarding, I would imagine. Congrats on the positive comments; you have every right to beam! Looks like you had a wonderful time!

    • by bridgette on September 24, 2012  8:41 pm Reply

      Thanks Sharmon- it was a bit nerve racking!

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