Dr. Clark Baker’s Work Displayed in Photography Exhibit at the Florence University for the Arts in Italy
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WACO, Texas (May 5, 2016) – Clark Baker, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences, was honored in Florence, Italy, last month as his photography was put on display at the Florence University for the Arts.
Baker’s work was presented in an exhibit called “Analog Explorations from Texas and the American South" and was displayed from April 6 to May 3.
“Our culture is fast, noisy, modern, complicated and violent in many ways,” Baker said. “I think I enjoy creating images in opposition to those characteristics.”
The exhibition presented analog photographs offering a look into quintessential scenes of the American South. Seeking to reveal the personality of the South, Baker included subject matter emphasizing the importance of faith, the qualities of earthiness and simplicity and a region distinctly influenced by its history.
Baker’s exhibit was shot in black and white, an attempt to portray “more than just archival quality.”
“Working in black and white allowed me to concentrate on context, form and tonality without the added visual complexities and sometime distractions of color,” Baker said. “Also, black and white photographs are rich in detail, dignity and sensuality.”
Baker was thrilled when Giovanni Rosiello, curator for exhibitions at Florence University for the Arts, offered him the opportunity to display his work.
“I put these images together specifically for this exhibition believing the audience there might find them unique and interesting,” Baker said. “I have been visiting Italy every year for the past six years and have put together a body of work that I hope will be shown in Italy as well as the United States in the future.”
“Working with Clark on this exhibition was a great experience,” Rosiello said. “He was the first American artist we have worked with in more than a year, and it was very interesting to see a body of work centered around the American South but set in an Italian context.”
Rosiello reflected on Baker's style of photography with ease and high regard.
“When a photographer is shooting, he is trying to discover, to uncover, to reveal,” he said. “Clark is a watcher, a supervisor of accident. He patiently disturbs the surface of things until significant accident becomes apparent, recognizing it and conserving the moment as best he can. In this way, a complete idea gradually emerges almost spontaneously. In the context of our everyday lives, his work must be regarded as an entirely different form of awareness, and so, as an essential quality of art.”
According to Rosiello, Baker’s heart and hands proved to act independently to bring his artwork to life.
“The viewer, by entering his pictures, may see the whole landscape of his spirit,” Rosiello said.
Baker describes himself as a self-taught photographer, starting on his own at the age of 12. From a young age, he has loved traveling, meeting different people, experiencing new cultures, storytelling and making photographs.
“When I was younger, I wondered why anyone would feel compelled to write when they could photograph,” he said. “More than formal education, I think the places I have studied and the people I have come into contact with have directly influenced my work.”
Baker’s photographic inspirations include photographers as well as artists in other fields.
“My stance has mellowed somewhat over the years, but I still appreciate the magical and transcendent work of photographers like Henri-Cartier Bresson, Ernst Haas and Robert Frank, the spontaneous street photography of Helen Levitt and the starkness of a Walker Evans landscape,” he said. “Although Ben Shahn made important photographs for the Farm Security Administration in 1930s America, it is his later work as a painter that I find brilliant. In the same way, although I appreciate the environmental photographs of Robert Adams, it is his writing about photography that has really affected me.”
Baker is a documentary and fine art photographer whose work has appeared in books, magazines, online media and exhibitions over the past 30 years. He teaches Media Photography and History of Photography at Baylor. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, an M.A. in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in cross-cultural studies from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
by Bethany Harper, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805
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