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No Rules, Just Photos 

The door was wide open, the possibilities were endless. Any subject was fair game—children, playgrounds, adults, snack bars in the shadows of power plants, astronauts, and more—as was any genre—portraiture, abstraction, landscape, abstracts.

With over 650 images sent in from all around the country, the ones that struck juror Donna Ruskin the most were those that integrated a unique concept. “All three of the winning images incorporated technique in an interesting way,” says Ruskin.

Ruskin selected three winning images as well as several honorable mentions. Dissolving Dream Girl, the winning photograph by Nicholas Fedak II, is a sepia-toned portrait of a girl in a ball gown with her hands primly folded at her waist, posing with an air of 19th-century formality. The blurred quality of the image presents a figure who is only partially present, further removed by black marks on the surface of the image, as if someone had tried to scratch the girl out and abandoned the effort halfway through. Another of the winning images was a close up of a woman’s face, by Morgan M. Ford (There’s a Reason Some Women Look Flawless). A beautiful face gazes out, obscured with a layer of wax and the words “there’s a reason some women look flawless” written into the wax in repeating rows across the image.

Many of the artists on display have more than one work in the exhibit. “It gives you more of a sense of that photographer’s work,” says Ruskin. “Also, if it’s part of series, it doesn’t make sense to take it out of context.” One of the many series on display portrays a sequence of eerie scenes . “They were taken of playgrounds, but they were absent of any children, but there was movement, evidence of some presence, but not a human presence.” The photos show swings in motion and playground carousels spinning. Ruskin had found the photos as hauntingly silent when she first viewed them, only to find out later the photographer, Gerald Merna, was deaf.

As the contest’s only judge, Ruskin chose 37 photographers, including seven from the Hudson Valley region, to display their work at the exhibit. Being a photographer for more than 25 years and working at the International Center of Photography for 20, Ruskin was thrilled to judge this years contest. “There were no guidelines so that made my job a little harder,” says Ruskin. “I had to keep in mind which images would hold up together and make some kind of cohesive exhibition.”

The Barrett Art Center’s 21st Annual National Juried Photography Exhibition is on display through May 10 at the Barrett Art Center, 55 Noxon Street, Poughkeepsie.
(845) 471-2550; www.barrettartcenter.org.

click to enlarge Gerald Merna's untitled No. 5
  • Gerald Merna's untitled No. 5
click to enlarge Morgan M. Ford's There's A Reason Some Women Look Flawless
  • Morgan M. Ford's There's A Reason Some Women Look Flawless

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