Louisiana photographer Ann George’s images in Flight Behavior, an exhibit running from September 8 to November 1 at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y., are as haunting and mysterious as they are beautiful and technically proficient.
George is an alternative process photographer whose preference for black-and-white images has lately expanded to embrace color photography—and she is also much more than a photographer. To create captivating images reflecting the South’s particular sense of nostalgia, and then suggest the darkness that lurks just beneath the surface of this gentility, George creates photographic fusions by blending traditional and alternative photography processes. She marries modern Photoshop techniques with oils, glazes, and waxes to create texture and depth, and prints her work using a polymer photogravure process. As a storyteller fully in command of these techniques, George weaves visual narratives that celebrate her native Louisiana, as well as people, places and stories that move her. In one body of work she references the appeal of gumbo, the Southern stew in which a particular set of ingredients are alchemized into something wonderful and nuanced. Among the photographs in the exhibit with this transformative quality is “The Descent of Man,” depicting a woman in a white dress frozen in the act of falling, set against a rock wall and a shawl patterned like a fan of peacock feathers. It’s a brilliant commentary on Darwin’s book “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” and the primacy of women.
“Circus Procession” also casts a mysterious, yet powerful, woman as the central figure. Here, the woman in white is crouched on a small chest in front of a circus advertisement tarp, coiled with potential energy like a swimmer preparing to dive. One of George’s talents is to infuse her images with rich narrative cues—and then leave them on the cusp of some turning point that viewers can delight in imagining.
“My work as a photographer and artist embraces the organic movement and rhythm that unfolds with the passage of time,” George says in an artist’s statement on the Flight Behavior body of work. “Like birds migrating southward, as the season grows cold. I employ these actions to find again what I once called home. This Sisyphean response attempts to create imagery that reveals my fragmented flight path.”
“I utilize photography for more than a means to capture a moment in time, but as a voice to capture a movement through time,” the artist elaborates on her website. “I desire to describe a journey, a fairytale, a feeling of progression through and to something and it propels my artist eye to such a beginning and an end.” In “The Binding of Isaac,” George focuses her poetic lens on the Biblical story of Abraham preparing to heed God’s command that he sacrifice his son Isaac as a show of loyalty. In the photograph, Isaac is bound in what appears to be burlap, tied with a contemporary rope, and lays on the ground, head thrown back, eyes closed, with a full moon behind Isaac’s head as if it were a halo—and the model posing as Isaac, on close inspection, appears to be a woman.
Ann George is an international award-winning artist who has participated in exhibitions throughout the U.S. and abroad. She has been published in multiple periodicals and books and has lectured in the U.S. and Canada.