David Sharpe : Waterthread
Mar 20 – May 10, 2014
David Sharpe’s recent body of work entitled “Waterthread,” is a considered contemplation of Colorado’s Clear Creek – the river that winds its way down from the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies through suburban Denver, past the city and into the South Platte River. Recognized in the region and critically respected for his large-scale pinhole images of the West, Sharpe's technical means of image-making utilizes handcrafted cameras made from humble oatmeal boxes and utilitarian tea cans to create his ethereal worlds. While the artist works in both color and black and white, Sharpe's enveloping style and refined sense of subject offers opportunities for poetic narratives and introspection within the artist's emblematic landscapes. At times like dreams, Sharpe's photographs immerse viewers within panoramic, contemplative worlds as a means of exploring aspects of place both familiar and in flux.
For “Waterthread,” Sharpe accumulates images that serve not so much as a record in a photo-historical sense, but rather, to express that water is a vital force– building and dismantling as it meanders through the Colorado landscape. Water’s ebb and flow in conjunction with the vicissitudes of weather, move the earth as mounds are formed, eddies are scooped out and floodwaters rampage. As if by design, the river deposits man-made and natural forms, then later, returns with high water to retrieve the objects and reposition them downstream. Sharpe’s photographs likewise reposition the lens, offering a view into the river’s layered accumulations; framing moments as it embraces rock formations and flows eastward. The “Waterthread” photographs’ soft focus, rich pigment and the parabolic view from the pinhole lens provides a template from which to meditate on the river as metaphor - as life-giving and ever-changing.
Sharpe's sense of the world resonates perfectly with the unusual challenges presented in the pinhole photographic process. With masterful technique, Sharpe works within the known parameters of his medium while seeking the unknown through his direction of each image. Without the control of a precise shutter, the artist opens up to and accepts the possibilities of environmental factors like sudden breezes or shifting clouds affecting the image he is creating. In Sharpe's hands, the movement of river water or swirling clouds across the sky will become something other than what it seems or started out to be. As the mutable images translate onto the small rectangle of photographic paper curved into the pinhole camera, the breadth of movement exposed at various times of day is registered through the recognizable blurring of edges inherent in the pinhole process. Directing the camera as it visually bends familiar objects into abstracted forms, Sharpe sense of wonder and integrated sphere-like view of the landscape is manifested. In doing so, he imbues the ordinary with deeper meaning. With senses engaged through his imaginative decision-making process, David Sharpe reveals his uniquely illuminated curvilinear worlds where place and moment perfectly merge.
David Sharpe has an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and attended Colgate and Colorado State University where he studied drawing and photography. He was selected as part MCA Denver’s Biennial exhibition and the Rocky Mountain Biennial at the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, a retrospective of Colorado photographers at the Arvada Center’s “Shooting the West” exhibition and most recently anchored Denver’s Month of Photography exhibition at Denver’s McNichols Building