Boston Society of Architects – New Visions of Designed Environments

Thursday June 6th marked the opening reception of “New Visions of Designed Environments.” (The exhibit is running June 04, 2019 – Jan 03, 2020)

As said in the initial press release on the show from the BSA, “New Visions of Designed Environments will mark the first in a five-year series of rotating photography exhibitions that will take place at BSA Space in the Storefront Gallery and second floor conference rooms. Exhibitions are expected to change every six months and will feature a roster of photographers exploring themes related to architecture, the built environment, and the power of design to transform and improve people’s lives.

I am honored to be one of the three jurors for this inaugural year. I have been working with architectural photographer Peter Vanderwarker and Museum of Fine Arts curator Meghan Melvin. The BSA will continue with new jurors in the second half of 2020 as they continue their project.

This photographic open call attracted works by both amateur and professional photographers. All represented diverse perspectives made manifest though a static image. Their unique visions, as well as the thoughtful placement of the works, made for an experience where one is invited to both meditate upon the artistry of the images as well as the architecture they contain.

There are works by the following artists on view:

Sheldon Bachus
Ramsey Bakhoum
Sam Balukonis
Natalia Boltukhova
Elisif Brandon
Jamie Cascio
Glenn Church
Anthony Crisafulli
Lynne Damianos
Raj Das
Jeff Dietrich
Will Donham
Larry Dunn
Steve Dunwell
Maia Erslev
Howard Fineman
Jeffrey Fullerton
Mary Gerakaris
Christoph Gervais
Justin Hamel
Rachel Harris-Huffman
John Horner
Katrina Jannen
Louis Jones
Greer Muldowney
Eric Newnam
Mercedes Nuñez
Mark Peterson
Rudi Pizzi
Ganesh Ramachandran
Andrew Shea
Jonathan Sobin
Rustam Tahir
Setareh Tajbakhsh
Aaron Wilder
Jenn Wood
FeiFan Zhang

One of the conference room galleries. Photo credit: Peter Vanderwarker
Spectators checking out the show
Artist posing in front of his work
Howard Fineman and his piece, “Light at the End of the Tunnel, National Gallery of Art, D.C.”
Viewer checking out Greer Muldowney’s pieces

A few exceptional pieces…

FeiFan Zhang, “No.1140 from series No Man’s Land”

FeiFan Zhang, “No.1140 from series No Man’s Land”, 2016. Archival Inkjet Print.

Zhangs’s piece as an architectural photograph stands out for its palette and the geometry it captures. The color scheme, almost completely shades of gray, with a tan brick wall cutting straight through the center of the image, leaves the viewer with a sense of an image with an almost surreal, metallic quality. The shiny skyscraper and the way the sun hits the metal ducts and I-beams lead the mind to believe that the rest of the image also has a silvered quality to it. The gravel and wall and the tiny house take on a magical metallic aspect as well. The contrast between the fading white wall and its unpainted and shadowed continuation around the corner also seem to suggest a certain luminosity. The vertical beams and building line up, stretching to the sky, as the walls cut the image horizontally, dividing the image into masses to discover individually. Each aspect of the photograph, from the street and sidewalk with the hidden train tracks, to the pattern of rocks tumbling down the hill in the gravel is ripe for an eye to explore and enjoy.

Andrew Shea’s shot of Boston’s Theatre District

Andrew Shea

What a fantastic shot of Boston’s theatre district Andrew Shea managed to capture in the image above. The reflection in the puddle is clearly the “star of the show” with Paramount’s marquee glowing both above and below a horizontal axis. The curving line of the sidewalk with the inky black puddle and old-fashioned streetlamp complete the right-hand side of the piece, drawing the eye towards the distance. The streak of brake lights from a passing car does the same from the left. The curves and lines work together to create a compelling perspective on Boston that one does not usually see.

Justin Hamil’s “Zip Code 31730”

Justin Hamil, “Zip Code 31730”

Justin Hamil’s “Zip Code 31730” is part of a series focusing on the murals found at post offices around the US. This piece was an especially compelling addition to the series “New Visions” because of its unique composition and view.

First, this is an indoor space, and one that includes people. Many of the photographs received as part of the show were only comprised of architecture. (And while the images were fascinating, beautiful and well-composed, it can also be interesting to remember the “who” in architecture. The spaces being created are for a use or for the aesthetic pleasure of a viewer.)

In this scene, we have both the living people at the post office and those in the mural above their heads. The four civilians visiting the post office do not interact with each other, but bring a natural life to the space. In addition, their clothing choices seem to mimic the mural at the top. The peach shirt and blue pants (the outfit found on the man at the far left) can be found in the mural above, on a man wearing a blue hat rather than white. The peach color, as well as the scarlet red of the woman’s pants are repeated in many items of clothing at the top. This color connection helps to take what could just be a snapshot of a Post Office and turn it into a work of art.

The viewer may also notice the interplay of other aspects that make this a lively photograph. Working from the bottom up, we can see a checkerboard floor, with a patterned texture on each square. The black and whites speckles on the floor are echoed in the marble wainscoting, which is also black and white. The gentleman in the middle of the image, wearing what may be camouflage, seems to blend into the wainscoting as the colors and patterns in the cloth are not that different from the marble.

The middle of the piece is dominated by the wooden post office window on the left, and the display cases and doors in the middle. The placement of the window on the left draws the eye of the viewer towards the center of the piece. The rich colors of the wood can also be found in the mural above, and help to tie the piece together, as do the other architectural elements.

While on the surface, this is a picture of a couple of people waiting at their local post office, at its core this image is so much more. This photograph is a snapshot of America at a certain moment in time; it also looks backwards a piece of artwork that was created for a post office. This piece can remind us that there is beauty in the mundane, as long as we are willing to look for it.

About BSA’s Space

BSA Space, Boston’s leading cultural institution for architecture and design, is home to the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA) and the BSA Foundation. The BSA is one of the oldest chapters of the American Institute of Architects. The BSA Foundation, a charitable organization, supports activities that illuminate the ways that design improves the quality of our lives. All exhibitions at BSA Space are supported by the BSA Foundation. BSA Space is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am–6:00 pm, and on weekends and holidays from 10:00 am–5:00 pm. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information visit architects.org.

Boston Society of Architects

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