Two students display their photos, talent in the HSC and Swen Parson Art Galleries

By Gary Schlueter

During the past week or so, the local photography fan has received a creative shot in the arm via the NIU Galleries. Three seperate photo exhibits have warmed the walls of both the Holmes Student Center and the Swen Parson Gallery. Whether a photo fanatic or just a “point and shoot” amateur, one would be hard-pressed to walk away from these shows unimpressed.

Two NIU students are presenting their works in the HSC Gallery; one in the gallery itself and the other in the lounge area.

Design major Sherri Lerche, whose works inhabit the glass gallery, has taken a procedurally historic step back to produce a series she calls “Photographic Lament.” Using 19th Century processing, Lerche creates a twelve piece exhibit of both moving black and whites and colorful (watercolor and dyes) multi-media pieces. The seven multi-media works _a combination of photography, art and craft_ touch upon the feminist movement, Nelson Mandela and current politics.

These pieces, though lively and enjoyable, are obscenely dwarfed by comparison to her black and white photographs. Lerche has presented five compelling, soft and facinating photos of both animate and inanimate objects. Lerche has an obvious keen eye for linear perspective and her camera seems to indiscriminately capture everything and its everything. The contrast in each untitled piece is impressive (check the statue in the garden), as is the soft focus she uses.

“This (19th Century) processing came about before photo paper was invented,” Lerche explains. “This was really the forerunner to emulsion. During processing you come up with different types of salts and chemicals.”

Lerche used silver nitrate to produce her black and whites and the results speak, scream, sway and whisper themselves into your memory.

One of her shots was taken through the clear face of a clock tower overlooking a seemingly quiet countryside. The enormous mechanics and geometrical curves of the clock lend an interesting contrast to the lush village below.

In the Student Center’s lounge area, Art major Katherine Seckman has given us an eight-piece display consisting of twenty seperate photos. Using diptych and triptych framing (two or three photos in a frame) Seckman has attempted to give the viewer if not a short story, then a long statement in each of her pieces.

“I tried to throw a curve into peoples’ interpretations through the triptych system,” Seckman offered. “I wanted people to interpret for themselves.”

Though these eight pieces do appear to dare the viewer into interpretation, their pure visual excitement would quench any artistic thirst.

Fleshy. Sexy. Hard. Cold. Natural. Earthy.

From a soft puff of hair draped over a sleeping neck, to large, raging Washington D.C. pillars; from an attractive knee of an extended leg to a violent hand ripping through that same soft hair; from a peacful chin lying in the grass to a peaceful _at first unrecognizable—deceased pigeon, Seckman allows her petite and feminine presence to explode into and through these images. This, Seckman’s first presentation, appears to be a personal triumph for the photographer. She did all her own modeling in scenes shot, for the most part, locally. She hand-made each nontraditional frame, white on a black boader bolted to the wall.

“I really like the comments people have been writing to me,” she says, “but hardly anyone has written their last names.” Full names or not, the appreciation is sincere.

Swen Parson Gallery is presenting photographic works from New York artist Jill Enfield entitled “Quiet Drama.” Enfield has compiled photos from across the continent (Mexico, Iowa, New Jersey and Florida). These hand-tinted, infrared photos are really an enjoyable escape from visual reality. Through her hand-tinting, Enfield transforms a quaint Iowa farmhouse into a wild futuristic setting. Lush greenery, in another shot, jives well with an un-tinted black and white sky line.

The HSC exhibits will be closing this Saturday and Jill Enfield’s “Quiet Drama” will run through Nov. 12.