Silver Eye Center for Photography to launch dual exhibition examining the tragedies and triumphs of personal growth | Pittsburgh City Paper

Silver Eye Center for Photography to launch dual exhibition examining the tragedies and triumphs of personal growth

click to enlarge "Bare With Me," part of Hernease Davis: Recapitulation at Silver Eye Center for Photography - PHOTO: COURTESY OF SILVER EYE CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo: Courtesy of Silver Eye Center for Photography
"Bare With Me," part of Hernease Davis: Recapitulation at Silver Eye Center for Photography
Growing as a person requires a fair amount of sacrifice and self-evaluation. Artists Jacob Haupt and Hernease Davis seek to examine this in their own, distinctive ways for an upcoming show at Silver Eye Center for Photography.

Silver Eye will open Jacob Haupt: Real to Me and Hernease Davis: Recapitulation on Thu., Sept. 2 as a way to continue the gallery’s mission of showcasing emerging artists who are pushing the medium of photography in interesting ways.

According to a press release, Real to Me is a pop culture-heavy look at “the tragedy of becoming an adult,” where Haupt recruits his wife, daughter, and friends to join him in scenarios described as “absurd, funny, and poignant tableaus of monsters, heroes, villains, and devils.” It goes on to say that, through these images, he “shares his feelings, weighs the value of nostalgia, and basks in the enduring appeal of Batman and The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” The involvement of his wife and daughter also makes it a “sincere, peculiar, joyful, delirious, and real family portrait.”


Davis, a Brooklyn-based artist, presents Recapitulation, a new multimedia work made with silk cyanotypes, sound installation, and silver gelatin prints. The show is described as drawing on Davis’ love of music, right down to the name, a homonym that refers to both a music theory concept, where a theme is introduced and repeated later in a movement, and the act of summarizing or restating the main points of an idea or event. By fusing these notions of “restarting and renewing,” the exhibition looks to “personal modes of processing, calming, and coping as a means of confronting personal experiences of trauma.”

While the dual exhibits may seem drastically different in content, Silver Eye deputy director Kate Kelley says both artists are “considering ideas of identity, and in some cases, skewing the idea of self-portraiture in different directions than it is often traditionally thought about.”

“While we didn’t plan these exhibitions with the idea that both artists would complement one another, it is always interesting to see how connections can be teased out once you start thinking about the work together,” says Kelley. “Hernease considers the silk cyanotypes she creates as a kind of self-portrait, as she hand paints the fabric and the period of time in which the color shifts, mimicking notions of self-evolution and growth. In Jacob's work, the artist creates costumes and sets, using himself, his wife, and young daughter as subjects. While we can’t see the artist’s face through their costumes, they represent ideas of selfhood, self-presentation, and a desire to forge an identity.”
click to enlarge "Catwoman Frame," part of Jacob Haupt: Real to Me at Silver Eye Center for Photography - PHOTO: COURTESY OF SILVER EYE CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo: Courtesy of Silver Eye Center for Photography
"Catwoman Frame," part of Jacob Haupt: Real to Me at Silver Eye Center for Photography
Kelley adds that Silver Eye worked with Haupt before, as he donated to the benefit auction the gallery holds every other year. She says Davis was brought to their attention through the Silver List, a “very cool initiative highlighting exceptional emerging artists working in photography across the United States.”

The shows also precede Silver Eye’s second Radial Survey, a major biennial exhibition of preeminent, emerging, and mid-career photo-based artists working within 300 miles of Pittsburgh. Set to debut on Nov. 4, Kelley says the goal of the show is to “highlight work and support artists from places that are sometimes overlooked in the national photography conversation.”


Radial Survey is conceived, not to identify a regional style or movement, but rather as a proposition: that artists in this space engage with logics, flows, histories, and mythologies that differ from those defining the faster-moving densities of very large cities,” says Kelley.

She explains that the gallery conducted dozens of studio visits and coordinated with curatorial consultants to identify artists for the show, settling on eight candidates whose work “explores how their personal identities intersect with the histories of places they are from, and where they work.”

The artists in the latest Radial Survey are Hannah Altman, Ryan Arthurs, Nakeya Brown, Nadiya Nacorda, Anique Jordan, Njamie Njie, Jay Simple, and Raymond Thompson Jr.

In light of recent COVID spikes, Kelley says Silver Eye will remain open for in-person visits and require that all visitors wear face masks and provide proof of vaccination. Even with so much uncertainty going on with the pandemic, Kelley says Silver Eye has been fortunate to continue supporting artists and bring new works to audiences.

“We are feeling immensely grateful to our community, near and far, for all the support and engagement over the last year and a half,” says Kelley. “From switching to virtual programming, to gradually opening our doors to in-person gatherings, we are so lucky to have had a continuous audience for all the programming and exhibitions we’ve produced.”

Jacob Haupt: Real to Me and Hernease Davis: Recapitulation. Sept. 2-Oct. 23. Silver Eye Center for Photography. 4808 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. Free. silvereye.org