Light Tight: New Work by Meggan Gould and Andy Mattern, on display from March 25 – Oct. 2, 2017, is a two-person exhibition that presents new and unconventional work by Meggan Gould and Andy Mattern. Both artists investigate the basic materials of photography and subvert the idea of photographic representation and the commercialization of the medium. The title of the show refers to the need to keep light sensitive material covered up, or “light tight,” until it is ready to be used. Together, these two bodies of works create a visual conversation about how the tools and conventions of photography can be reconsidered and manipulated.
Gould’s work has long been characterized by an ongoing exploration of how photography affects the way we see the world. In her most recent series Don’t Open Box in the Light (2015-16), Gould uses photographic sheet film, but not in the usual way. Instead of using it in a camera to capture latent images, she renders it impotent by rubbing away the emulsion, burnishing what is left, and then drawing on it using pigment ink drained from digital printers. Her methods are both meditative and laborious, intimately reconnecting the artist with her materials while simultaneously creating a hybrid between darkroom and digital photography that defies classification. The final pieces are unique, hand-made images with a patterned, rhythmic appeal.
While Gould focuses on the material aspects of the medium, Andy Mattern turns his attention to the standardization of commercially manufactured photography paper and its packaging and marketing. Starting with the cardboard boxes in which the paper is advertised and stored, Mattern sands and scrapes off their recognizable logos and images before adding tape and other collage elements. His interventions neutralize the boxes’ corporate messages, creating a new surface that denies their original function. He photographs the resulting abstract images, reclaiming the boxes as sites for creative freedom and transforms their corporate messaging into a personal vision. The resulting prints in the series Standard Size are both straightforward and cryptic, familiar and strange.
Gould earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied anthropology. She continued her studies at the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies, where she studied non-fiction writing, and at Speos (Paris Photographic Institute), where she began her studies in photography. She earned her MFA in photography from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and now teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico. She premiered this new work at the Houston Center for Photography in 2016.
Mattern, a native of Albuquerque, earned his BFA in Studio Art at the University of New Mexico and his MFA at the University of Minnesota. He is now Assistant Professor of Photography and Digital Media at Oklahoma State University where he has inaugurated a photography program in the Department of Art, Graphic Design, and Art History. The Standard Size series was most recently shown in a 2016 solo show at the Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York City.