Artist and photographer David Rackley will present his mixed-media exhibit “Frame of Reference” at University of the Ozarks throughout September as part of the University’s Artist of the Month Series.
The exhibit will be displayed from Sept. 3-29 in the Stephens Gallery, which is located in the Walton Fine Arts Center. There will be a reception to meet the artist from 6-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, in the gallery.
Rackley, who is married to U of O Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Rhonda Shook, has taken photographic excursions to South America, Asia, Europe and Central America. His medium is hand-painted black and white photography.
“I begin by using a large or medium-format film camera. I develop the film in the usual manner, then I use a 4×5 enlarger to make a silver gelatin print on fiber based photographic paper,” Rackley said. “Once the image is dry, I paint it with photo oils, photo pencils or a combination of both. Traditionally, the coloring of black and white photographs has been called tinting, and involved a slight coloring of the image, resulting in a soft, pastel effect. My approach is markedly different. I usually apply the paint thickly in order to achieve a saturation of color. In most of my work, the painting is as important as the original photograph, so I categorize the process as mixed-media.”
In his exhibit, “Frame of Reference,” Rackley said the images are “an invitation to a narrative. I have envisioned a scenario, a story behind each of these, but I leave it to the viewer to create their own. It is my hope that those observing the work find it of sufficient interest to linger and wonder and create a variety of possible narratives concerning the who and why behind the images. The frame of reference of each viewer is different and, therefore, the number of narratives limitless.”
Rackley grew up in Alaska and has traveled extensively ever since.
“The overwhelming visual stimulation of Alaska, the place I lived for most of my life, was a crucial factor in my becoming a photographer,” he said. “I left Alaska at 17 to attend college at Arizona State University. It was at this time that I discovered photography, and began to photograph in the Southwest and Alaska. After receiving a B.A. in anthropology, I traveled to Central America, photographing among the Maya of Guatemala and southern Mexico. I made subsequent trips to Central and South America, and in 2007, went to Thailand where I worked with Hurricane Karen refugees from Burma and documented a teaching/research project in refugee camps. Most recently, I spent several weeks photographing in Paris and Provence. I have exhibited work from these years in several venues in Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mexico, and South Carolina.”
Rackley said that “as a photographer, I attempt to be mindful of the nature of the camera, as well as the beauty of a medium that makes the assertion that the artist was in the presence of the subject at a particular place and time. I try to take that concrete reality, that immediacy, and make it an integral part of my work, yet for me, the art of photography is not just the accurate depiction of reality, but the creation of an image that transcends that particular place and time. That image is, hopefully, an invitation to a narrative that the viewer can create, one that resonates with his or her own vision.”
After earning his undergraduate degree, Rackley went on to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina.
Two of David Rackley’s artworks, Evangeline and Two Artists Walk into a Bar, that will be on display in his “Frame of Reference” exhibit at U of O from Sept. 3-29 in the Stephens Gallery.