Bill Westheimer Statement


Artist Statement
I believe art should ask questions, not provide answers. The problem with photography is that it shows you what exists. It is much too literal for my taste. My challenge is to take the familiar and make it unfamiliar; to ask a question and begin a dialogue with the viewer. W.H. Auden said: ”Knowledge may have its purposes, but guessing is always more fun than knowing.” I don’t capture what is there, but rather I liberate what I see. When my photograph of something familiar makes the viewer see it in a new and different way and use their imagination then I have succeeded. I love to photogram the small things that we often overlook: a weed, or a broken piece of glass. I pursue those things that are rejected, the trash and the detritus, because I enjoy the challenge of finding something exquisite in the ugliest garbage. Like the ancient Japanese Zen monks’ tradition of wabi-sabi - which venerated the ephemeral complexity and beauty of nature’s imperfections - I pursue my fascination with the art of impermanence. I use the objects with the photogram technique to make one-of-a-kind pictures. Without the interference of film and lens I reveal the fundamental nature of the entity itself. Taking the objects into the darkroom, I use their shapes, shadows and their essences to expose conventional photographic paper or old fashioned glass plate negatives that can then be enlarged and reproduced using digital technology and a pigment printer. My personal dialogue with the objects provokes the questions expressed in my pictures. All I ask of the viewer is to join me in my pursuit of the investigation.


Process Statement
I use the objects with the photogram technique to make one-of-a-kind pictures that can then be enlarged and reproduced using digital technology and a pigment printer. Without the interference of film and lens I reveal the fundamental nature of the entity itself in my pictures. Taking the objects into the darkroom, I use their shapes, shadows and their essences to expose conventional photographic paper or old fashioned glass plate negatives. From the original one-of-a-kind print I use digital technology to scan and enlarge and print the image in monumental sizes.


 
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