Kathy Wesselman uses photography to explore the relationship between fragments and image. The passage of time, the organic effects of weather, and the human touch, are variables that Wesselman deftly puts to use in her abstract pigment prints. Her process is a hybrid of photography and printmaking. In each of her three largest bodies of work, Waterline, Abstract Narrative and Vecchia Luce, Wesselman subtly cues the viewer to question what is seen on the surface. By altering scale, editing and repositioning elements, Wesselman's fragments assemble toward a new image. As Leger stated it, “Enormous enlargements of an object or a fragment give it a personality it never had before, and in this way it can become a vehicle of entirely new lyric and plastic power.”
In Wesselman's body of work, titled Abstract Narrative, she photographs segments of hand-painted exhibition titles at art museums. These detail images of letters, separated from their original purpose, are reconfigured and combined toward a new purpose altogether. Viewed from a distance the geometry and patterns are reminiscent of minimalism. Up close, imperfections of the wall surface and paint are visible. The resulting image is a composition that carries a suggestion of the hand while emphasizing the photographic nature of the work.
Her series Waterline involves a similar process beginning with found source material. Shooting boats in dry dock, the images are cropped, reduced and reassembled to create a geometric abstract image. The works interplay chance and control by contrasting weathered, aging and repaired surfaces with the selective framing and editing of the image. Applying her expertise as a graphic designer Wesselman employs a digital printing process typically used for commercial purposes. Working with archival inks and paper she is able to develop the depth of color and texture resembling painting on paper.
Wesselman previously worked as a graphic designer working on large scale architectural projects. Her experience with architecture and variations in scale informs all of her works. As if approaching a large landscape she communicates the relationship between the scale, a detail, and a larger, immersive experience. Her series, Vecchia Luce, works directly with architecture. Wesselman photographed remnants of age and repair on wall surfaces in Italy. The centuries old walls that have been repainted and repaired are documented in moments of floating or direct illumination. These works continue Wesselman's interests in layering references to light, color and time.
Wesselman has an exceptional ability to transform the familiar to something unidentifiable yet completely engaging. Dramatically altering our relationship to the scale and location of the original image, a wall text, a wooden boat, light on a wall, Wesselman's prints evade instant recognition and conclusions, encouraging the viewer to begin one's own exploration.
Lynn White Contemporary Art