By the Light

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
Untitled #5 from the series Above & Below, 2013 Silver Gelatin Print Mounted On Aluminum © Courtesy of the artist
By the Light

1450 El Prado
Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
November 1st, 2013 - February 25th, 2014

san diego
Sun 12-5; Mon-Tue,Thu-Sat 10-5 / Summer Hours June 1 through Labor Day Sun 12-5; Mon-Tue,Fri-Sat 10-5; Thu 10-9


Exhibition marks the artist’s first solo show at a museum

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego Museum of Art will host contemporary artist Noah Doely’s premier solo museum exhibition, Noah Doely: By the Light, from November 1, 2013, through February 25, 2014. Exploring the relationship between light and setting, By the Light features a series of black and white photographs depicting dramatically lit, cavernous aquatic scenes.

“This exhibition further demonstrates the Museum’s dedication to emerging artists and to the field of photography,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director of The San Diego Museum of Art. “Doely’s works are created with great technical skill and possess a haunting and charismatic quality.”

At first glance, these photographs represent the natural world, yet the result is deceptive. In his process, Doely creates dramatic underwater spaces by building the environments he photographs. First, molds of aquatic rocks are cast and reconstructed into different formations. The constructions take the shape of caves and are placed in a glass tank that can also be considered an elaborate diorama. Next, the tank is filled with water and illuminated by a single light source, strategically directed into the underwater space. Variables like intensity, shape, and direction create the feeling, emotion, and drama of the final photograph.

The innovative environments in Doely’s work urge the viewer to reconsider their own place within history, their relationship to the subject matter, and to question the link between photography and truth. By choosing caves as a source of inspiration, Doely’s new body of photographs, Above & Below, reinforces the notion of universalism as these photographs remain distanced from a particular culture or individual identity.

Furthermore, through observing the dramatic role of light in these works and its interplay with cave forms, the relationship between nature and belief becomes reinforced. By isolating these forms and positioning the light in a particular way, these caves are made sacred.

While the works in Noah Doely: By the Light possess considerable darkness, they are revealed to the viewer through the manipulation of light. The way in which the light enters the space through the pinhole camera, and the way light reveals to the viewer the crevices and varied contours of the caves are essential to the work.

By the Light follows Doely’s exhibition The Expanse of Fact, which was displayed at the Steve Turner Gallery in Los Angeles in summer 2012. Works in The Expanse of Fact depicted fabricated images of the cosmos, again questioning if the photograph was real or a figment of the creator’s imagination.

About Noah Doely
Doely received his MFA from the University of California San Diego, and is currently Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Northern Iowa.