Hiram College

From film to digital, photography as an art form has been evolving for more than a century. Some artists prefer digital and the ability to edit and manipulate images with technology. Others enjoy working with film and the hands-on approach of developing photographs in a classic dark room.

Artist Jon Verney sees photography from an unconventional perspective. In his ongoing project “Thermophile” he finds new ways to manipulate and develop images. Works from this collection will be on display at the Hiram College’s Gelbke Fine Arts Center in an exhibition, “Mantle: Photographs as Material,” November 3-December 13, 2017.

Verney takes silver-based photographs and redevelops them in volcanic environments such as geothermal springs and mud pots. The process, intertwining manufactured chemicals and the forces of nature, leaves a lot to chance. No two redeveloped photographs look the same.

“I approach photography as a raw substance that can be mined, dissected, sculpted, and dissolved, revealing through its dissolution processes of transformation that act as microcosmic foils for larger forces of flux and change,” Verney writes in his artist’s statement.

The finished prints are haunting and surreal. Their metallic colors are reminiscent of x-rays. They reflect transformations of the self and question the idea of permanence.

“By approaching his photographs with the haptic sensibilities of a painter, Verney’s experiments dissolve and morph the supposed reliability and integrity produced by photographic processes, creating painterly effects that seem to flow from paint bottles as well as photochemical reactions,” says Christopher Ryan, associate professor of art and director of the Gelbke Fine Arts Center Gallery.

Verney earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and his Master of Fine Arts from the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. He was recently a visiting artist at Adrian College in Michigan and is preparing to be an artist in residence at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina in December 2018.

The “Mantle: Photographs as Material” exhibition will kick off on November 3 with a reception from 5-7 p.m., including a talk by the artist at 6 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be provided.

The Gelbke Fine Arts Center Gallery is located on 1200 Winrock Road in Ohio. Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. (The gallery will be closed November 21-28 during Hiram’s term break.)