Robert Stivers: Listening to Cement October 13 — November 11, 2000

When Robert Stivers first emerged on the scene five years ago, his photographs transformed animals and people into mysterious objects, often blurring our sense of reality. He created soft- focused images about memory, birth, longevity and eroticism where figures floated in total darkness, animals became weightless and limbs appeared to exist without an attached body. In his newest body of work, Stivers deepens his investigation of the spiritual world, as faces, torsos, buildings and objects emerge from darkness, each carefully informing the other. While we recognize the profile of a woman or the arch of an entryway, Stivers' photographs transform flesh into cement and back again. "Listening to Cement" reminds us that all things, animate and inanimate, have life and can lead us into realms of spirituality and intrigue. While several images include elements of the human form the back of a bald man's head, a portrait of the artist himself, two figures in an embrace Stivers also includes photographs of the sea, an abstract cloud pattern and the spiral of a seashell. As a whole, all objects emerge from darkness, resting in places which are as inviting as they are foreboding. Void of gravity, bodies and objects float, anchored by the edges of the photographic paper. These are lustrous images chemically toned in the darkroom. The result is a series of photographs which shimmer with gold, yellow and orange tones which change from print to print due to how he works in the darkroom. Listening to Cement asks us to listen to the silence of a person's stare or waves on the beach -- a silence which is both palpable and imagined. Through these images we enter a world that reflects the numerous emotions we face daily and the quiet we long to retain.


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