For the images I produce as an artist, I have conducted research in Niger, West Africa, where I lived for three years. My art involves an exploration of the Nigerien landscape, the Djarma and Fulani cultures and the art forms they create. This abstract work portrays ritual and tradition in Nigerien culture.
To create my imagery, I work from a variety of references. Relationships among color, shape, and texture come together to form fluid and grid like compositions. Color dominates the images and dictates the media employed to produce them. This series of art pieces combines mixed media and collage together to create vibrant tapestries of imagery.
Gretchen Beck served as Professor of Art, Chair of the Art Department, Curator and on the faculty at Concordia University, Irvine, CA, for eleven years. Currently, she is a professional artist.
Recently, she created a series of exhibitions at the following galleries: Cardiff School of Art & Design, Cardiff, Wales; FP3 Gallery, Boston, MA; Sandstone Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA; and Stadler Gallery of Contemporary Art, Kingfield, ME. She will have upcoming exhibitions at the following galleries: Mary Elizabeth and Charles Bernard Rodning Gallery of Art, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL; Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery, Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, OH; and Farnham Gallery, Simpson College, Indianola, IA. She exhibits and discusses her work in group and solo exhibitions in galleries, on national and international levels. For further information about her work in the visual arts you can view her website at: www.gretchenbeck.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gretchen Beck, M.F.A.
Beauty can be found in unlikely places and is subjective to the viewer. Through my art, I attempt to find that beauty, mystery and vitality which is hidden or which we choose to ignore.
My work begins with drawing. I use my sketchbook as a visual diary, a means of recording images. I explore and investigate different compositions and possibilities. The potential of visual art to change the ordinary into the extraordinary fascinates me. I like to play with elements that effect our aesthetic sensibilities and create new scenarios which will arouse the curiousity of the viewer.
Artist Reception: October 3, 5:00-6:00 PM
My work currently addresses themes of disintegration, regeneration and reproduction through an emphasis on organic materials and natural forms, using earth. To me, earth has been very intriguing and contains a mystic, organic beauty. It is an original, primordial material that lends itself to an immense range of tone, nuance and texture which I manipulate to create calm, thought-provoking non-subjective images, imbued with history, spirituality, and the struggle of mankind.
Artist Reception: November 7, 5:00-6:00 PM
I strive to make relevant, memorable American images that make people think. Often I combine images into composite artworks that act as “story starters” for viewers. I invite each viewer to search their own past, remember emotional experiences, and respond with what they think each artwork is about. I am interested in reflecting the mood and feeling of our era.
Since 2005, as I traveled around the country, I have actively sought scenes, objects, people, etc., and recorded them with photography. This photographic project has resulted in finished photographic artworks as well as become reference for paintings and drawings. Since 2008 I have also drawn live models twice a week. Working with the theme of American Narratives and moving from one medium to another has acted like cross-pollination. The process of working in each medium affects my thinking while working in the other mediums.
When one thinks about what appeals to Americans today in movies, politics, celebrities, food, etc., people seem to want to be attracted to – and repelled by images at the same time. My sometimes voyeuristic, broken-narrative compositions reflect America’s channel-changing attention span and state of mind.
Artist Reception: February 9, 5:00-6:00 PM
I love film. I love its depth, granularity and challenge. Film cameras are old friends and they have a heft that is comforting. And when one is shooting film there is a tendency for one to be self-editing and judicious with resources. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me, someone who views the analog world as this mythic wondrous place, to find such pleasure in iPhone imagery.
Early in my career, I began shooting photos for editorial purposes—to support pieces of my own journalism or public relations. During those years, back in the seventies, I learned the Zen-like satisfaction that comes from developing one’s own film. To this day, if I try hard enough, I can conjure up the powerful smells of D-76, Dektol and fixer. Still, with all the professional and creative rewards I received as a devoted film photographer, I was constantly nagged by the image that got away—the journalistic visual, the piece of whimsy or irony that would have made a compelling image. That changed with my first iPhone. Suddenly I had no more excuses. I had a serviceable camera with me virtually all my waking hours.
Like anyone with an Instagram account, in the early going I was a fool for the cartoonish filters one could apply to one’s images. Thankfully the worst of that phase passed quickly, and I began to find joy in the unedited image or at the most the lightly edited picture.
I still like to think I have my original tools: the desire to capture interesting pictures and a willingness to approach charismatic subjects for an environmental portrait. I still miss the darkroom and its charms. I really miss the power of true depth of field. But I’ve made a deal with the devil. What I’ve lost with the equipment and some of its magic, I’ve gained with having a good camera with me all the time.
As Chase Jarvis notes in the introduction to his book “The Best Camera Is the One That’s with You,” “…an image can come from any camera, even a mobile phone. Inherently, we all know that an image isn’t measured by its resolution, dynamic range or anything technical. It’s measured by the simple—sometimes profound, other times absurd or humorous or whimsical –effect it can have upon us.”
The iPhone has renewed my love of taking pictures and sharing them with an audience. You are still left with the task of discerning the merits of the image. Like always.