A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Jul 21, 2010
Anyone who passes through Wisconsin can see it’s a place with an abundance of beauty, natural and human-made alike. But there’s also plenty that’s not so aesthetically pleasing, particularly elements built by human hands.
Carl Corey turns his attention to this latter group in Habitat. Begun in 2006 and featuring more than two hundred images, the photography series focuses on things people see every day but hardly ever notice: town signs, farm elevators, tourist rest stops, run-down houses.
Eleven large-scale photographs are on display at the James Watrous Gallery at Overture Center. Corey captures sights that seem ubiquitous, yet he does so when no one's around. So the viewer sees an empty motel pool, a barren highway, abandoned picnic tables.
The absence of human presence helps change how the scenes are perceived. There’s an inherent stillness and loneliness to the images, enhanced by the fact that many were taken at night. Some also feel eerie or mysterious, while others veer toward sad or even slightly sinister.
Other works, however, hint at humor, like a ranch house lit up for Christmas. Icicle lights cut through the darkness along with an illuminated Green Bay Packers emblem.
Wisconsinites will recognize much of the imagery. And there’s a familiarity, too, in the way the sights are presented. Raised in Chicago, Corey now lives in Hudson, Wisconsin, and it’s obvious he’s traveled through enough of the state to understand it.
Looking at Corey’s photographs, one ends up feeling glad these quiet, unobtrusive scenes were given attention—and appreciative that he was the one to do it.
Also on display at the James Watrous Gallery is Cloud Odyssey by Madison artist Lisa Koch. She uses glass, light, maps, water references and cloud imagery to explore movement, nature and the passage of time.
Both Cloud Odyssey and Habitat run through August 8 at the James Watrous Gallery. For more information, visit wisconsinacademy.org.
Photos courtesy of the James Watrous Gallery.