Where The Sky Meets The Sea; The Photography Of Alison Shaw Page 2
Last October Shaw received an artist residency in Provincetown on Cape Cod
where she lived in an old dune shack far out on the National Seashore. The vast
space and the roar of the ocean inspired yet more of a minimalist and abstract
approach to her work and the photographs created the clarity and beautiful sense
of that world of pure sea and sky.
A popular workshop instructor, Shaw finds that most of her students come aboard as pretty conservative, many stuck in their ways. Shaw urges them to break the rules, experiment and push themselves to a new way of seeing.
Rock Harbor, Orleans 2003
"I am trying always to inspire my students to find their own esthetic
and their own style and I want them to recognize these things, think thematically
and stylistically and pursue what they are drawn to. I talk a lot about color
temperature and the Kelvin scale to them," she says. "Once you understand
that, it's a tool--that warm and cool light and what it does on film.
"I encourage all of my students to learn composition in an art form outside of photography because within there is a tendency to apply it too often as rules. It is the same with perspective. In learning this way, by the time these things get translated back into your photography they are not rules but become more a general sense of what looks right and feels right. A composition must be a feeling thing, not something that is analyzed."
When we look at Shaw's work over the years we think first of color,
not only the superficial color but the integral color of the place where she
is working whether it be Ireland, Tuscany, Provence, New Zealand, or Cape Cod
and the Islands. There is an intrinsic joy in them all, the joy of a photographer
who takes pleasure in every minute of her work. As Shaw says, "I'm
still doing what I love like it's a hobby.
It has not lost its luster and I can't think of a better job."
Paul's Point 1990
Shaw's recent achievements include three books. The first, Vineyard Harvest, a book of recipes from Martha's Vineyard and written by Tina Miller, is illustrated with a series of brilliantly colored food shots. Her newest venture is a tribute to the craft of a Vineyard stonemason, Lew French. Stone by Design is a coffee-table book for which Shaw has brought her exotic touch to the many hues of stone and architecture. Also available is Finding Martha's Vineyard authored by Jill Nelson, a series of black and white photographs narrated by the large population of African Americans who reside there.
Lucy Vincent Beach 1999
To learn more about Shaw and view her extensive collection of photographs, visit her website at Alisonshaw.com.