Thursday, January 10, 2013

Art Exhibit: Opening Reception (Colin Winterbottom's "Gothic Resilience")

1234 9th St.  NW
January 10, 2013
6:30-8:00 pm

“Gothic Resilience,” a selection of photographs from an ongoing collaboration between photographer Colin Winterbottom and Washington National Cathedral, will be on exhibit at Long View Gallery January 10–February 10, 2013. A companion exhibition and other events celebrating the collection will take place at the Cathedral beginning in March. 

Started as the Cathedral began restoration and recovery from the August 2011 earthquake, the series sheds light on a number of hand-carved architectural features that were damaged in the quake; paradoxically, the overall impression left by the series is of the strength and resilience of the graceful Gothic structure.

“My photographs are often about the impact monumental architecture has on its visitors,” Winterbottom explains. “Coming to the Cathedral at this hour in its history presented a unique challenge: the damage from the earthquake is inescapable, so it is present in the corners of—or indeed ‘hidden’ in the center of—a good number of these photos. But overall I didn’t want the series to simply say ‘oh, look how tragic this is.’ Instead I worked to capture this bruised-beauty as a grand place with enduring dynamism and drama everywhere you look. A few months into the project now, I think I’ve struck that balance well.”

With rare access to the Cathedral’s heights and depths—from its buried infrastructure to damaged pinnacles at the highest point in Washington—Winterbottom provides an up-close look at the timeless beauty found in the Cathedral’s richly ornamented surfaces of stone, wood, and glass and its open, soaring spaces. The resulting photographs, classically styled in both black-and-white and sepia richly locates the Cathedral as both a vantage point over a complex urban landscape and an integral part of that landscape: an iconic piece of the country’s architectural heritage that resonates with people of varied faiths and speaks to the city as a whole.

“Winterbottom’s photographs bring home the complexity and craftsmanship to be found even in the smallest elements of a building most widely known for its large-scale impact, showing the gravity of recent earthquake damage as well as the beauty that continues to endure even in broken stone,” says the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Cathedral. “We are grateful to Long View Gallery for shining a first light on “Gothic Resilience,” and we hope that visitors to this exhibit will come to see a much-loved building in new ways, coming away with an appreciation for the Cathedral’s way of revealing something new at every turn—as well as for the patina of history so respectfully captured in these prints. We consider Winterbottom one of the finest photographers in a generation and can’t wait to see what he will show us next.”

Winterbottom has built a career largely on studies of Washington’s urban landscape. His photos seek to express not just what a place looks like but how it feels to be there. Winterbottom combines a heightened sensitivity to place with compelling compositions and unique perspectives to infuse the urban landscape with drama and mood. His Cathedral series builds on a recognized portfolio of D.C. photographs that embrace the grand and the gritty with equal enthusiasm. He will continue to photograph at the Cathedral as restoration work continues.

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