ISAAC LAYMAN - NEVER WAS A THING
November 1 - December 29, 2018
Opening Reception: November 1, 6 - 8 pm
Arguing about Seeing:
A Conversation on Contemporary Photography with
Artist Isaac Layman and Curator Linda Tesner
November 15, 5:30 pm
‘Never Was a Thing’ marks 17 years of working almost exclusively within my immediate environment, my home. An overhead light or a tool from the basement may become a subject of a photograph for a week. Where I make breakfast I also make art. And at times this has seemed like "a terrible f***ing idea."
Terrible because the idea is the solution; to stay and keep looking leads to more staying and looking. And then there's the issue of discerning cabin fever from epiphany...or maybe one shouldn’t? In either case, there's a desire to see differently and that is the point. Being confined is looking around and seeing things—or if one accepts, as the show title suggests, that everything “never was a thing”, we find ourselves in the more fun and open-ended experience of "seeing things”: the space of multiple viewpoints and continually changing meaning. Semantics aside, come see the show.
Sincerely, Isaac Layman
Isaac Layman makes large format photographic constructions of objects inside his home and captures astonishingly vivid details through the scientific precision of his process. Multiple perspectives coalesce and recognizable subjects challenge the viewer’s perception through meticulous optic detail. The artist creates the visual experience of “semantic satiation”, a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener. Layman’s images similarly seem to transform through extended periods of looking and become more peculiar, alien and intriguing.
Layman's new large format photographs are featured in the first gallery, along with his uniquely conceived installation in the adjacent space. On display in the second gallery are pictures that Layman captured during a 24-hour silent retreat within the confines of his bathroom. During his self-imposed home retreat, the artist absorbs and reflects the experience of listening to National Public Radio’s perpetual news cycle through images on his phone camera. Every picture included in Never Was A Thing is imbued with Layman’s intensive process: a record of unflinching visual absorption and a meditation on the subjective nature of reality.
Layman’s work has appeared in Lifelike, a traveling exhibition organized by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) second nature: abstract photography then and now, at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (Lincoln, MA), and Paradise, a solo show at the Frye Art Museum (Seattle, WA). Layman’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Frye Art Museum, the Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA), the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse (Miami, FL), the Monsen Collection of Photography (Seattle, WA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX), the Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach, FL), the Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), the Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), the Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN). Among the artist’s awards and honors are the Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum and the Contemporary Northwest Art Award from the Portland Art Museum in 2013.