Transitioning from a career in biomedical research, I have employed photography to take a closer look at my urban and rural surroundings. Whether looking at cultural and boyhood influences, or the pressures of commercialism that shape the way we live, I aim, through analysis and personal reflection, to produce images that infer what their setting, content, and relationships mean to us. I take advantage of and shape serendipity for the insights it offers. My abstract imagery, found in the hulls of boats in their cradles, evokes imagined landscapes. My window photography shows views from the outside looking in, while highlighting the potential allure of contemporary style. My photographs of mannequins - tongue in cheek “dummies” - decode the silent messages they whisper to seduce the psyche of prospective buyers. A more detailed description of each body of work follows each group of images.
These images are an exploration of the minimal elements required to form a landscape in the mind’s eye - a boat’s waterline as coastline, the texture as weather, the footprint of barnacles as stars. The images begin as photographs of the waterlines painted along the hulls of boats sitting on their cradles in boatyards, where they await their return to the sea. The waterline is often encrusted with the residues of the past year(s). Pausing to study this evidence of where the boat has been, one perceives a horizon. Above and below that are details of imagined landscapes, perhaps those that could be seen from the boats themselves when they sailed on the water. In developing these images, I share my own imagination and provide the seed for each viewer to form their own remembered landscapes.
For over a year now, I have been making photographs of boat hulls sitting in their cradles in boatyards. The waterline - that border that floats between air and water - is often worn and encrusted with the evidence of the past season(s), and I have imagined landscape imagery encoded by that residue. The waterline is sometimes interrupted by drains and scupper holes from which the outflow leaves traces of various corrosives, rust, and pollutants disgorged from within. These images provide inescapable evidence of the downside of the sailor’s voyage on the sea. At the same time, the images provide icons which trigger the mind’s eye.
Ambiguity of Cityspace:
My photographs of store windows aim to juxtapose what dazzles us from the outside with the motivations of commercialization and its disconnectedness from the natural world. These artificially extravagant and alluring inner spaces, which I have captured in locations around the world, are appointed with curious color, eerie light, and shiny baubles. The same devices are used in storefronts ranging from rural main streets to the Ginza fashion district in Tokyo, Japan. Our views of these spaces are defined by window or door frames, and their ambiguity highlighted by our separation from that which is contained in the interior.
What Can the Dummies Tell Us?
Mannequins, increasingly more human-like, beckon to us from inside the commercial environment. These artificial beings belong there and were created to represent ideals that command our participation. They are comfortable in their surroundings, but may sit in judgment of those looking in, asking if each person meets their expectations.
Vignette images offer a closer look at the artful compositions employed by storefront designers in every commercial niche— from antiques, to stationery, to second hand. The vignette previews the style of the store, while establishing an atmosphere that attracts us into the shop. In this series, I aim to document the original intent of the window designer to appeal, while framing and developing the images to emphasize what it is that seduces our senses.
Richard Alan Cohen lives in the South End of Boston and Litchfield County, Connecticut. He graduated from Bowdoin College where he co-majored in science and art, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He spent 40 years at Boston University School of Medicine in medical research and was the Jay and Louise Coffman Professor of Vascular Medicine. His lifetime interest in art derives from his mother, an art teacher and painter, and his father, a house designer and builder. He has embraced the photographic medium to continue communicating discoveries to others.
Gallery on the Green, Canton CT “Objectives of Desire: Vignettes”
SOWA First Friday Morse Editions
Galatea Gallery, Boston “Objectives of Desire”
SOWA First Friday Morse Editions
SOWA First Friday Morse Editions
“Waterlines”. Westport Free Library, Westport (MA) Art Group, Awarded by Karen Davis.
Gallery on the Green, Canton, CT, Artists Association, 50th Annual Open Juried Exhibition, Juror, Lisa Hayes William, Selected image: “Waterline-15”.
Ashton Gallery, San Diego, CA, Orange is the New Black, Juror: Jenna S. Jacobs, Selected image: “Psyche”.
Griffin Museum of Photography: “The Visual Metric”, Juror, Paula Tognarelli, Lafayette Center Gallery, Selected image: “Finale”
Westport Art Group: “Treasure”, Juror, Karen Davis, 3 selected images from “Objectives of Desire: Vignettes”, awarded two-person show.
Davis-Orton Gallery: 3rd Annual Group Show, Juror, Paula Tognarelli, Selected image: “Bilge drain”.
Griffin Museum of Photography: “Space” exhibition, Lafayette Center Gallery, Juror, Paula Tognarelli, Selected image: “Psyche”
Gallery on the Green, Canton, CT, Artists Association, 44th Annual Open Juried Exhibition
Selected image: “Snail Pool”
Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, Portsmouth NH, New Hampshire Artists Association, Open Juried Exhibition, Selected image: “Frames”, Juror’s honorable mention
Atelier 21 at The Rockport Art Association, Griffin Museum of Photography
Atelier 21: Griffin Museum of Photography
Don’t Take Pictures: Rule Breakers, featured Waterlines, curated by Kat Kiernan, August 30, 2017, https://goo.gl/LdmvaU
aPhotoEditor, featured Ambiguity of Cityspace, curated by Jonathan Blaustein, November 6, 2015, https://goo.gl/a2xEQ3
Neutral Density Awards, Honorable mention (Conceptual category): Objectives of Desire: Ginza
Neutral Density Awards, Honorable mention (Conceptual category): Objectives of Desire: Vignettes
Neutral Density Awards, Honorable mention (Conceptual Category): Ambiguity of Cityspace,
Neutral Density Awards, Honorable mention (Conceptual Category): What the Dummies Can Tell Us
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine: Graduation with Art Minor, 1972
Atelier 21 with Meg Birnbaum at Griffin Museum of Photography, 2014.
D65 Creativity workshop with John Paul Caponigro and Seth Resnick, Cushing Maine, 2016.
Galatea Gallery, Boston. MA
Gallery on the Green, Canton, CT
Prints: Archival pigment prints on paper in sizes 12" x 18" to 20" x 30" are available for purchase. Waterline prints are on William Turner watercolor paper. Dye sublimation prints on metal up to 30" x 45" are also available. Please inquire.