Weekly Update 1 – Donald Camp at Gallery 339

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Here’s my short review, appearing in the Editor’s Choice section of the paper, of Donald Camp’s Dust Shaped Hearts. It’s a great show.

Donald Camp
Installation shot at Gallery 339 of Donald Camp’s Dust Shaped Hearts. The large-scale photographs of artists, musicians, writers and others confront you with their humanity.

Donald Camp’s photo portraits of contemporary writers, artists, musicians and ordinary people at Gallery 339 are like and unlike other series that document a time and place. Like the 20th-century German photographer August Sander, Camp (a Pew fellow and highly accoladed local artist) is creating a taxonomy of humans who are individuals but also representatives of their groups. And like street photographer Zoe Strauss, he chronicles those not typically captured in official archives. Using a hands-on process that involves dry pigment and a milk-based casein binder and labor-intensive scrubbing, Camp transforms the images into embodiments of the human spirit—created by the hand of the artist who anoints these people with his touch and love.
Donald Camp
Left to right, photo-portraits of William Larson, Donald Camp, Jennifer Perry.

The portraits are difficult and yet their beauty is sublime. The larger-than-life images show one unsmiling face after another, cropped to visage and served up like thunderous exclamations. Camp himself appears in one image, surrounded by mentor William Larson and “mentee” Jennifer Perry, who took the artist’s photo. While not a triptych, the three images read as a continuum of energy passed from one individual to another, and their symbolism is like the symbolism of the entire series—one of affirmation.

Donald E. Camp: “Dust Shaped Hearts”
Through Jan. 13. Gallery 339, 339 S. 21st St. 215.731.1530.

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