MOPA: John Chiara

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Seeing the Light

03.19.2013, Chantel Paul

When it comes to curating exhibitions, one of my favorite experiences is working with contemporary photographers. It allows for the interaction I would never be able to have with the masters who have paved the way, like Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Harry Callahan and Ruth Bernard. Towards the end of last year, I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful photographers for MOPA’s upcoming fall exhibition Staking Claim: A California Invitational. One of these photographers has just opened an exhibitoin of new work  atRose Gallery in Santa Monica. His name is John Chiara and as a contemporary photographer, he’s using one of the oldest forms of equipment to make his incredibly dreamy and powerful images, the camera obscura. And not just any camera obscura, but one large enough for him to crawl inside, cut a piece of paper off a roll, and tape it to the back wall for exposure! Don’t believe me? Watch this video from 2006 to see for yourselves how he does it. Photographs like this don’t come easy. It’s taken Chiara years to perfect his craft and the work has paid off. His work is one more reason to mark to your calendars for the opening of Staking Claim: A California Invitational on October 12th here at MOPA. Until then…enjoy!

Text and image courtesy of the Museum of Photographic Arts