Then & Now
Photographer Thomas Mezzanotte
Thomas Mezzanotte, who received the Fairfield Arts Council Artist of the Year Award in 2010, has been exploring the potential of the photographic medium for more than thirty years. He’s known for combining historic techniques, such as the camera obscura, with his own contemporary innovations. The resulting image is cutting edge.
Mezzanotte’s artistic journey began routinely enough—in the high school photography club. (He says, “The dark room was a cool place to hang out.”) He became more serious about art at the University of Bridgeport, where he switched majors, from physics to fine arts and photography. Here he also found his mentor, Rodger Baldwin, who also taught at Yale. From him, Mezzanotte learned what he calls “alternative processes in photography.” In the 1980s, after becoming Baldwin’s assistant, Mezzanotte ran the university’s Carlson Gallery and eventually served as its director.
He’s intrigued by the dynamic interplay of old and new. “My work is mostly images of bodies and faces and is really about photography itself—its history and the history of art,” he says. “As a process artist, I am always seeking new directions and asking myself: “How can I break the rules to make a more interesting image? Where can we take this medium?”
This winter Mezzanotte will put that perspective to use as juror of the Fairfield Library’s Kershner Gallery exhibition Journeys, inspired by the One Book, One Town selection—The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic, by Allan Wolf. The author approaches the story of the fateful voyage from the point of view of more than two dozen characters. “While some journeys are taken such as a trip to another place others are a process of development leading to some type of transformation,” says Janine Brown, who cochairs the exhibit with Alice Katz. To that end, the artists were encouraged to represent a journey they have experienced as actual, metaphorical or spiritual.
Mezzanotte will have the final say on the results. “What I’ll look to showcase are examples of each artist’s unique vision—to see something of their own creativity in their work. What’s important is not the subject but a suggestion that they are personally invested in what they create,” he says.
See it: Journeys exhibit, until April 6, Bruce S. Kershner Gallery
Fairfield Public Library, 1080 Old Post Rd.; fairfieldpubliclibrary.org.