Our Tuesday’s Objet series (pronounced “OB-JAY” from the French word for “object”) intends to highlight pieces on display outside the physical confines of our gallery spaces, to draw attention to the art that surrounds us on a daily basis, if we only take a moment to pause and look.
Happy Tuesday, everyone! You might notice today’s objet as you stroll through the foyer of Bertrand Libary. It’s a photograph by Shauna Frischkorn, titled Brandon Playing Halo 2.
Frischkorn received her B.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and her M.F.A. in Photography from State University of New York at Buffalo. She currently holds a position as Associate Professor of Art at Millersville, where she teaches all levels of photography, from beginner to advanced, as well as a course about “Non-traditional Photography.” (Are you as intrigued as I am?? I want to see that course syllabus! …Jeez… Yeah I’m a photography nerd, I admit it).
Brandon is part of a larger series by Frischkorn, titled Game Boys. As the name suggests, these photographs depict young men while they are enraptured in playing video games. Frischkorn’s work is rooted in the tradition of portrait photography, a venue which she adapts, in her studies of gamers, to explore the larger cultural phenomenon in which they immerse themselves. According to the artist, her intent is to “look beyond the hype surrounding video games and focus on the players themselves. Traditionally, the belief has been that a portrait could tell us a great deal about a subject: a window into a person’s inner character could be found through facial expressions. Although the expressions on my subjects may appear to be passive, the gamers in these photographs are actually performing fast-paced maneuvers and executing split-second decisions, making these portraits of intense concentration.”¹
As you may or may not know, we change out those pieces in the library to reflect current exhibitions in both our main gallery and our downtown location. Frischkorn’s photograph acts as a companion piece to our downtown show, Jas Knight: Euhemerized. Knight combines realist painting styles from the 1500s and 1600s with references to contemporary African life and conflict in his oil paintings. Through this anachronistic amalgamation, Knight investigates the flux between reality and fiction, past and present. At first glance it may seem odd to pair a photograph of a young white male with works which explore the exploitation of a minority. However, I see compositional similarities in how the two artists depict their subjects, particularly when we compare Frischkorn’s Brandon with Knight’s Beatific.
Beatific is a portrait of a young black woman with her head surrounded by bright gold. This “halo” which radiates from her coiffed hair alludes to religious portraiture of the Renaissance. Knight incorporates this historic visual reference into a contemporary theme: his sitter’s intimate engagement with her iPhone.
Like Knight, Frischkorn’s subject is bathed in ethereal light. Brandon, like the model in Beatific, fully engages with his chosen technology. He is as enveloped in dialogue with his game as the model is with her phone. Both sitters, through their expressions and the compositional elements utilized by the artists, emit an almost spiritual devotion to these elements of modern culture. And though Frischkorn emphasizes that her sitters are in an active state of mind, I compare that mindfulness with a form of meditation. Thus, Brandon’s intense focus actually mirrors the contemplative nature of Knight’s model in Beatific.
If you’d like to know more, check out Shauna Frischkorn’s website here!