Exhibit preview: "Degrees of Freedom" showcases beautiful imagery created by unconventional perspectives

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For his latest exhibition, “Degrees of Freedom,” at the Angela Meleca Gallery, Columbus-based photographer Nick George continues his approach of creating beautiful imagery through unconventional means. George had a solo show at the gallery last year that featured photographs created by finding cameras in thrift stores that had undeveloped film and shooting the shelves where he found the camera. George created double exposures for the series — layering his photograph upon the original undeveloped one.

In “Degrees of Freedom,” George is again taking a fresh vision — capturing the Auguste Rodin “The Thinker” sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art from an up-close, initially disorienting perspective using 30-year-old 35-mm film — for the four largest pieces. That sculpture was severely damaged by an act of vandalism in 1970 — a bombing allegedly carried out by The Weather Underground — and George is asking viewers to contemplate both his methods and their own perceptions.

“I always look for that space in the work too, and invite the viewer to question. Partly that’s the tension here. If you view these as beautiful before you know what they actually depict, or the violence behind it, that tension in the viewer prompts further questions. ‘Should I really think this is beautiful, this violent act against art,’” George said during an interview at the downtown gallery.

The complementary pieces in “Degrees” — a video showing a miniature “The Thinker” (from a snow globe being blown up by a firecracker), and two series of smaller works examining the process and philosophy of photography — further prompt the viewer toward contemplation.

George created some magnificent abstract pieces by freezing photograph chemicals in the reverse order they’re normally used to develop pictures — water, fixer, stop bath, developer — in a bowl. He then let the bowl’s contents melt on photo paper.

“I’m looking for places where material fact meets discovery. Or I often use photography to learn something about the material or make a discovery about the material of photography. It’s almost like I did something wrong or didn’t read the instruction manual and there’s something there,” George said.

“Degrees of Freedom” holds an opening reception 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23.

Photo by Nick George

Angela Meleca Gallery

Through May 23

144 E. State St., Downtown