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Photos blend ancient prophecies, water imagery
Photographs by Jamie Wakefield and Dennis Brown

Review by Wesley Jordan
Puget Sound Trail
November 16, 1973

 

"The Silver Image'' a small gallery downtown on Commerce Street, is presently exhibiting the work of two highly talented aspiring photographers. The show features color prints by Jamie Wakefield and black and white photography by Dennis Brown.

Although the work of Brown is most perceptive and detailed, this writer wishes to comment only on Wakefield's work and its relation to the theme chosen for his segment of the show - "Prophetic Images.''

Through a personal friendship with Jamie, this writer has had the opportunity to learn of his singular interpretations of the Old Testament prophets, and of his ability to transform this understanding. into the physical reality of a photograph. His pictures deal with the essence of the prophetic teachings and, more fundamentally, with the prophets themselves as they wrestle with the incessant torment of knowing God's will and yet remaining human.

The pictures speak in symbols using the beauty and complexity of nature to describe the prophets. They deal with the omnipotence of God and the miniscule power of humans, the omniscience of God and the ignorance of men. We see photographs of immense size-the Pacific Ocean with one lone rock standing between the viewer and the horizon, a sunset taken through an icicle on the side of a mountain. We see the frail definitiveness of single flowers or drops of rain. Some scenes are shot through dense fog, while others have a depth of field suggesting the visions of those carrying the word of God.

Jamie uses a multitude of symbols, more than an observer can respond to upon single observation - light versus dark, green versus brown, landscapes abounding in water versus barren expanses of rock and dirt - but the unity of theme relies on the use of reflections.

Most of the photographs deal with areas of water in which one can see below, at, or above the water level. At first one cannot discern any difference between the various photographs, but careful inspection will reveal that one cannot see all levels in each picture.

In one, one might see a quiet pool of water with rotting leaves sunk below the surface. In another the supple green shoots growing out of the bottom penetrate the surface. In yet another the reflection of the trees, clouds and blue sky miles above the surface is captured in minute detail (the authenticity of color here is astounding), but the observer cannot see the bottom of the pond only several inches deep.

It is in these photographs that Jamie's intimate understanding of the prophets comes to light. Man can see the bottom, or the surface, or at times the reflections of great things beyond the pond, but he does not possess the ability to see all three. The prophets are the messengers of God and can pierce the fog to see both the earthliness of man and the infinity of God. The prophets stand between man and God, neither comfortable with their humanness nor secure in their knowledge of God. One gets the impression that the necessary humanness of the prophets prevents them from always seeing both reflection and pond.

The prophets are not presented as complacent men living in the tranquil beauty of both worlds. There are pictures showing water rushing so rapidly that it is only a blur before the lens. The deepness of the hues and the angles of light give clues to the nature of the picture, but the scene is so chaotically progressing that one is never sure which way is up. The prophets become dizzy with their new perspective. How can they adequately perceive both the content of the water and the reflections from it if events are moving too quickly for the mind to adhere? What possibility of a reflection of God's will is there in such turbulence?

This writer found a cohesiveness in Jamie's work; a consistency of insight which pushed deeper than the mere beauty of the photographs. One is not all that sure, after seeing the show, that he is seeing everything around him. One is sure that Jamie is seeing things he is not.

The show at "The Silver Image" is open from noon to five Tuesday through Saturday, through November 24.
 



Dennis Brown and Jamie Wakefield
November 6 to November 24, 1973

The Silver Image Gallery
727 Commerce Street
Tacoma, Washington
 



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