The Anne Miller Art Gallery is nestled away off the entrance of Koch Hall. Not many wander into the art building across from Recitation, but the few who do witness history in the making. The gallery itself serves as a residence to the vast array of visiting artwork that cycles through the Wittenberg campus from artists who are busy creating new material every day, and is open to students from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week.
To kick off the year, the Anne Miller Gallery is hosting the work of Leah Stahl, visiting professor of photography. Stahl’s series, entitled “Hemispheres: A Temporary Record of How the Light Got In,” is a collection of black and white prints within the genre of micro-photography.
The series itself begins to document Stahl’s experience with a recently discovered brain injury that left her with speckled visions of nothing more than bright dots of light, sparking her interest in the movement and habits of light.
Stahl explained, “Through the use of various photographic techniques — mainly camera-less — I explored my nascent desire to deal with light and the myriad of ways it moves through us […] and reaches us in ways we never would have anticipated.”
The images cover an array of potentially abstract subjects through the scanning or photographing of small objects such as silver gelatin and what appears to be dust, dirt, cracked glass, or even bacteria, while striving to give a name to the elements of the work. The light and dark values change as one walks through the gallery, shifting from wisps of what might be dust or feathers on an abyss of a black background to explosions of contrast to the stark clarity of white space with little interruption. This play on light is nothing short of abstract and no less thought-provoking.
As a viewer, you wonder about the meanings behind the work. Are you looking at dust or an image of the universe? A collection of dye-drops or the inner cornea of a human eye? Of the soul? Stahl admits that “[w]hat began as an exploration of the human brain, and the limitations I might now face, quickly became the space I needed to reflect upon elements of my very being, to which I had been less attuned.” She talks about humility, discovery, mortality, and renewal being the driving philosophical elements behind her images, and though the elements may be heavy, her beautiful dots have friends and a driving force behind the progression of her work and the opening of her mind.
Stahl’s work will be in the Anne Miller Gallery in Koch Hall until Sept. 19, 2014. She is also giving a lecture Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. in Kissel Auditorium, just past the gallery. Her images are an incredible documentation of a personal journey, and definitely worth viewing.