In December, the month of giving, we are highlighting our talented gallery artists who give us the gift of their work. It is their insights that inspire us, help us grow, challenge us and surround us with inspiration.
Aline Smithson is definitely an artist to know. We are honored to represent her and dedicate this Deck the Halls post to one of our favorite projects of hers, an artistic take on and nod to Whistler’s Mother. At a garage sale one day, Aline found a small print of this iconic painting formally entitled “Arrangement in Grey and Black no. 1, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother.” Inspired by “portraiture, strong compositional relationships, and the evocative nature of unassuming details,” Aline set out to create her own hand-painted photo series called Arrangement in Green and Black: Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother.
Over the course of the next couple of years, Aline Smithson frequented garage sales and thrift shops in search of props, paintings and costumes that would make for interesting quotations of Whistler’s masterpiece. Aline’s work often takes a playful approach to personality, painting and wardrobe. Here are a few of our personal favorites:
The photographs in this series bear another meaning, though, composed as they were at the end of Aline’s mother’s life. The series is a record of time spent creating, laughing, and joking around. In Aline’s words, “As a model she often wanted to be dramatic in the images, and I had to tone her down. My favorite shoot was recreating the geisha image. She kept laughing as I was trying to focus and I had to tell her to stop smiling so much. When I finally was able to focus on the whole image, I realized that she was giving me the finger. I printed that one for myself. As I progressed with the series, it become more meaningful, especially because I was bringing joy and laughter into our lives when there was plenty to cry about.”
About Arrangement in Green and Black
This series had serendipitous beginnings. I found a small print of Whistler’s painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother, at a neighborhood garage sale. The same weekend, I found a leopard coat and hat, a 1950’s cat painting, and what looked like the exact chair from Whistler’s painting. That started me thinking about the idea of portraiture, the strong compositional relationships going on within Whistler’s painting, and the evocative nature of unassuming details.
The series incorporates traditional photography techniques, yet becomes richer with the treatment of hand painting. It is my intent to have the viewer see the work in a historical context with the addition of color, and at the same time, experience Whistler’s simple, yet brilliant formula for the composition.
My patient 85 year-old mother posed in over 20 ensembles, but unfortunately passed away before seeing the finished series. I am grateful for her sense of humor and the time this series allowed us to be together.
The images were taken with a Hasselblad and printed on Ilford warm tone matt paper, then hand painted. Available in two sizes,11×14 ($1,500) and 16×20 ($2,000). It is an edition of 25 with 4 Artist’s Proofs.
About Aline Smithson
After a career as a New York Fashion Editor and working along side the greats of fashion photography, Aline Smithson discovered the family Rolleiflex and never looked back. Now represented by galleries in the U.S. and Europe and published throughout the world, Aline continues to create her award-winning photography with humor, compassion, and a 50-year-old camera.
She has exhibited widely including solo shows at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, the Lishui Festival in China, the Tagomago Gallery in Barcelona and Paris, and the Wallspace Gallery in Seattle and Santa Barbara. In addition, her work is held in a number of museum collections. Her photographs have been featured in publications including PDN (cover), the PDN Photo Annual, Communication Arts Photo Annual, Eyemazing, Soura, Visura, Fraction, Artworks, Lenswork Extended, Shots, Pozytyw, and Silvershotz magazines.
In 2012, Aline received the Rising Star Award through the Griffin Museum of Photography for her contributions to the photographic community. She also was awarded Honorable Mention for Excellence in Teaching through CENTER for 2012. Aline founded and writes the blogzine, Lenscratch, that celebrates a different contemporary photographer each day and offers opportunity for exhibition. She has been the Gallery Editor for Light Leaks Magazine, is a contributing writer for Diffusion, Too Much Chocolate, Lucida, and F Stop Magazines, has written book reviews for photo-eye, and has provided the forwards for artist’s books by Tom Chambers, Flash Forward 12, Robert Rutoed, amongst others.
Aline has curated and juried exhibitions for a number of galleries, organizations, and on-line magazines. She was an overall juror in 2012 for Review Santa Fe, a 2009, 2010, and 2011, 2012, and 2013 juror for Critical Mass, and a reviewer at many photo festivals across the United States. Though she was nominated for The Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 and awarded an Honorable Mention in 2012 and was nominated for The Santa Fe Prize in Photography in 2009 by Center, she considers her children her greatest achievement. Aline is also a founding member of the Six Shooters collective.