Tucked behind the string of local shops in the Triphammer Mall hides one of the Ithaca Bakery cafés. Here, a collection of organic photographs hangs above diners sipping freshly brewed, fair-trade coffees in the booths and tables along the shop’s walls. The purity of the pictures complements the already natural atmosphere of the local bakery showcasing “Recent Work,” the visceral collection now on display.
The current show features recent work of Robyn Wishna, lecturer in Ithaca College’s Department of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts and an independent photographer. Thirteen of her pictures are framed and displayed in two separate rooms of the bakery. An array of simple yet elemental subjects from different locations are captured in the high-resolution digital scans. While every photograph tells a story on its own, with no underlying theme, each grouping suggests a purposeful uniformity.
The clarity of the images illuminates the artist’s careful attention to detail. In the “Pink Flower” pair, Wishna’s creative depth of field shows the Floridian bromeliad in an entirely non-cliché manner. Each picture has a white backdrop that brings out the flower’s bright fuchsia color while simultaneously melting its white tips into the background. The first image focuses on the top half of the budding plant stalk with a few others blurred behind the central subject. Wishna intriguingly lures in the viewer by bringing into sharp focus one of the plant’s shoots stemming from the background to the foreground. The second image is captured at eye-level, depicting the flattened top of a fully-blossomed bromeliad that invites observers to peek atop its petals.
A series of five landmark images from the historic D-Day site in Normandy, France, are strangely moving. Depicting both humans and birds sunbathing on the beaches where tragic bloodshed ensued years ago, the natural beauty and sereneness of these tragedy-evoking images are unsettling. There’s an interesting contrast between the image taken behind a dark iron cannon peering into the baby-blue skyline and that of the brightly lit, ivory-colored stone cross poetically remembering a comrade “known but to God.”
A series of black and white images decorate the bakery’s more open section. Though this room’s environment is busier than the more isolated area, these images are simpler and slightly eerie. Penetrating a bit deeper into the viewer’s mind, the grayscale images attract a certain curiosity in trying to discover the precise subject matter. With shadows dominating the prints, the expert use of light brings out the refined texture within the pictures of desert plants. A beam of light emerges from the background’s total darkness in one of the images, gradually crawling up on what appears to be a wooden plank but is actually the rigid stalk of a plant. Another orb of light descends upon the petals of a spiky leaf whose teeth the camera so keenly focuses on that it resembles those on a rotating saw blade.
While Ithaca Bakery proudly displays the images of local talent, the untraditional art venue does not do the photographs justice. Though uniformly framed and equally distributed in both of the shop’s rooms, the photographs are hung in a somewhat unkempt manner above booths and bar-stool tables. The yellow lighting cast at differing angles creates some distracting glares and discomforting reflection on the images’ surfaces. The pictorial artwork has a contemporary feel that seems well suited for the refined coffee shop, but the photographs are regarded more akin to wall decoration than works of art.
Even though the bakery location is not ideal for an art exhibit worthy of its own gallery, Wishna’s organic abstracts are displayed for all to admire. The prints beautifully convey the artist’s vision, translating exactly what is viewed through the lens directly onto the matted prints.
Wishna’s “Recent Work” exhibit will be on display at the Ithaca Bakery in Triphammer Mall until Feb. 15.