The Heart Has Its Reasons
The Robin Rice Gallery is proud to present The Heart Has Its Reasons, Jefferson Hayman's second solo photography exhibition at the gallery. The opening reception will be held on Wednesday, November 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
"…A man reaches inside his body to show his heart to others. It reminds me of the life of an artist; we bare our hearts and ideas to the world."
Hayman isn't describing one of his own photographs, rather, he's referring to a drawing by one of his favorite artists — Odilon Redon — that bears the same title, The Heart Has Its Reasons. However you define Hayman's work, the still life photographs are deafeningly quiet. You can just about hear yourself breathe as you address a hat, a shirt, a boat, or a torso. He brings the viewer to the rarest of experiences — a truly still moment. It's a hard experience to find today.
Inside the gallery, the space takes on an intimate, living-room-like feel, with walls washed in grayish blue, with chair rails and picture moldings surrounding the area. Photographs are interspersed between wooden objects Hayman refers to as "factory molds," remnants used in the casting processes of the 19th century. "I enjoy the way that they speak to us from a different time…forms which were designed for industrial purposes have now taken on the look of sculpture." Hayman chose the design elements to enhance the domicile quality of the gallery. The viewer is invited to get comfortable in the space, to feel at home amongst the photographer's visual diary. "A simple moonrise as seen from my backyard fits in like a cousin to a dreamy blue cityscape or a still life of an old pair of wingtips."
Hayman's diminutive photographs are handcrafted silver gelatin, pigment and platinum prints that seem historically timeless, captured with a delicacy of tonality derived from the highest traditions of graphic art. His images are paired with antique or artist-made frames (some of which were hand-made by Hayman himself) that place each piece into the realm of unique statements. The frames are an eclectic mix of vintage inspirations, varying in scale and depth, often fitted to millimeters from the photo's edge, drawing the viewer's gaze directly into its subject and serving as a powerful bulwark.
In the invitational image, Sailor, we are presented with a lone shipman's cap resting on a counter softened by shades of gray and white. The patinated oval frame enhances the mysterious quality of the photograph — a feeling of spying through a ship's portal. Hayman achieves this ghost-like quality in the darkroom by diffusing light through semi-translucent layers, giving each image a granular texture and making subjects appear as apparitions obscured by a light curtain of white noise. Like most of his works, what's captured on film is just one piece of a longer narrative and the true story is occurring beyond the edges of the photograph. "I'm only providing one chapter of the story, it's up to the viewer to write the rest of it."
"Blue is the color of dreams," he says. Water is also a re-occurring theme, an enduring symbol that evokes infinity. His seascapes tie into the 19th century mode of faraway travel, before airplanes, when ships were the main mode of international transportation.
Hayman is self-taught and has been taking photographs since 1999. He came into the medium later in life after obtaining a degree in drawing, a skill that greatly informed his photographic aesthetic. Though he's never been formally mentored, Edward Steichen continually inspires him: "I seem to go through phases where I become re-obsessed with his work. I never tire of looking at his images."
Jefferson Hayman grew up in Mechanicsburg, PA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Kutztown University, soon after taking a job in a local framing shop — a position that would significantly influence his approach to photography. His work can be found in many private and public collections, most notably The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Public Library, President Bill Clinton, Robert DeNiro, The Boston Athenaeum and Ralph Lauren.