Altamira Fine Art Jackson is pleased to welcome Eric Overton, for his first photography exhibition at the gallery, Western Gothic.
Please join us for an Artist Reception on Saturday, October 12th from 5:30-7:30pm.
What can be preserved in a photograph? Connection, posits Eric Overton in his collodion photographs. Connection between past and present, between people and place. Connection both human and natural, both personal and historic.
Such connection is made possible by the early photographic process that Overton has deftly adapted to his backcountry photography sessions. Glass plates are coated in sticky collodion, then the wet plates are charged with silver nitrate. Packed in an antique camera, the artist exposes the plates to the natural light, capturing the negative cast by blue light. Then the image develops in a portable darkroom he creates by backpack or in the bed of his truck. A notoriously finicky process, all of these steps must happen in no more than 10 minutes. Time and expertise are of the essence. As is patience.
Photography connects Overton to nature—the physical and the personal. A Utah native, he found himself distanced from wilderness during medical school. Whenever possible, he would escape outside, camera in tow. “Those experiences were everything medicine wasn’t. It was slow and imprecise and it was quiet,” he says. “When I would come back from a trip in the wilderness, I felt more aware. Instead of just hearing my patients, I actually listened to them. I noticed more. I had new eyes. Photographing these places with a slow process changed everything for me. It really made me question how I wanted to live my life. What kind of doctor did I want to be? What kind of artist did I want to be? What kind of father did I want to be?”
As these rhetorical questions suggest, photography is a philosophical practice for Overton—a medium he shares with others. The artist has seen his photographs connect people on opposite sides of the land-use debate; they compel people to arrive at common ground through presence in the same wild place. This binding effect is inherent to his chosen technique. Before its application in photography, collodion was used as a surgical dressing, the glue doctors used to bind wounds. “It literally brought things together,” he says. “This camera and the collodion process brought me into wilderness and closer to myself. It’s hard to explain, but from the time I take a picture to the time I develop it in the darkroom just minutes later, I’m just excited. Like when my dad would take me to buy fireworks. Or when I climbed the ladder to the treehouse in our front yard. It’s in those moments of anticipation, there’s this sense of mystery, and I just feel joy while I watch the photograph emerge onto the glass plate. There’s almost always some mistake, some misfortune. But I think it makes the photograph more interesting, more playful. The artifact and the imperfections are really what hold my attention. It’s totally exhilarating. It never gets old. I become a kid again by taking pictures this way. It’s fleeting of course, but I know my way back. It’s in these places, and through this process, that I have learned to slow down and be more like my kids. Maybe curiosity and presence could help save us all.”
For more information and to enquire, please contact the gallery: firstname.lastname@example.org. (307) 739-4700.