West Palm Beach, Florida
Mostly Prague: Photographs by Anna Tomczak
Anna Tomczak is a gifted photographer with an eye for creative staging. She works with found objects (botanicals, memorabilia, and artifacts) as well as the human figure to create assemblages, which evoke the work of Joseph Cornell. But while the box is the main event for Cornell, Tomczak's concern is to document the event.
Although Tomczak resides in the state of Florida, her work often takes her far beyond its borders. A large portion of her work is made in New York City and, in the case of this exhibition, Prague, Czech Republic. There exist in the world only five large-format 20 x 24 Polaroid view cameras. Tomczak is one of only a handful of artists (William Wegman is another) who is allowed access to the rare cameras, as well as materials, through Polaroid's artistic support program.
Tomczak's working process co-mingles stage design, lighting, collecting objects, and artistic vision. Each tableaux and image is created in the studio and photographed with the oversized Polaroid view camera. The 20 x 24 Polaroid negative is transferred onto a dampened piece of smooth heavyweight watercolor paper. Every print is unique, as each negative is transferred immediately after being photographed, and can never be duplicated. However, some of the assemblages are photographed two to four times with changes and adjustments occurring with each new picture.
In the spring of 1997 Tomczak returned to Spain for her second artist's residency at Loft Nota Bene in the coastal village of Cadaques, also known as the home of SaIvador Dali. Her project for this residency was to photograph the envelope as a container, object, transporter of messages and secrets, gifts, and ideas. Before leaving the United States, Tomczak requested numerous friends, artists, writers, and family to send her, while she was in Spain, something that they felt connected them to home, family, or themselves. Tomczak then gathered all the objects -- letters, artifacts, and recently scavenged and purchased treasures -- and traveled to Prague, where one of the five Polaroid cameras resides.
During her two days in the studio with the Prague camera she arranged and photographed her envelope assemblages. The resulting body ofwork is steeped in atmosphere and personal histories. Tomczak's process results in a striking level of luminosity and color saturation. The photographs themselves achieve a poignant lyricism, evoking themes of memory, loss, and an enduring connection to the objects that define us.
Anna Tomczak has consistently pushed her artistic vision and the difficult medium of making transfer prints to arrive at an evolved personal visual style that is unabashedly opulent, complex, and crystal clear.
Mostly Prague: Photographs by Anna Tomczak is organized by the Norton Museum of Art and will be comprised of 18 recent works. Included in the exhibition will be 14 images from the Prague series and four other recent photographs.
Tomczak earned her MFA in Photography from the University of Florida. Her work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Orlando Museum, the Polk Museum, and the Tampa Museum. She is also well represented in such corporate collections as Sony, SunBank, R.J. Reynolds, the Mayo Clinic, and IBM. She has received many traveling and teaching fellowships, including the NEA and Florida's Individual Artists Fellowship.
From top to bottom: Canvas and Seed Pods, 1997, Polacolor image transfer, 24 x 20 inches; Spacek's Blueprint, 1997,Polacolor image transfer, 24 x 20 inches; Tropical Diary, 1996, Polacolor image transfer, 24 x 20 inches; Re Creation, 1997, Polacolor image transfer, 24 x 20 inches; Dove Portrait, 1997, Polacolor image transfer, 24 x 20 inches.
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