Monday, March 21, 2011

JoAnn Verburg

In the photography of JoAnn Verburg, the selective focus and focal planes of the eight-by-ten she shoots with are used to dramatize her otherwise ordinary subjects. Even in this image, a situation where the view camera would be ideal for maximum depth of field, she choses to place the focus on the first window, letting the viewer guess at the rest of the image. Her typically pastel color pallet lends its self to the air of mystery present in so much of her work. Formally well composed, this image takes a more geometric approach to composition then much of her other photography. The dark triangle in the bottom left balances the light triangle formed by the windows in the top right. The slice of ground that leads to the door on the right is played off with the inclusion of the structure behind the wall on the top of the same side.

More so then the previous image, this photograph is characteristic of Verburg’s whimsical, dream like, style.  Once again the bright day light and pastel colors suggest a happy, cheerful place.  The entire image is a balance between the blur selective focus and the crisp points where she brings out her chosen subjects into sharp clarity. Here the close tree branch and then the tree behind it are the subject of her focus. This duality suggest a macrocosm-microcosm theme in which both the individual part and the group as a whole are shown in comparison.  

Diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs make up another facet of Verburg's work. The choice of devisions with in this specific piece are especially fascinating. across the horizontal borders, the images line up fairly well, the news paper seems continuous as do the tress and wall. However, when moving vertically the transitions are less smooth. Here the movement from one set to the next is prohibited by the focus selection, a deliberate tool which JoAnn Verburg enjoys using. At first glance the leaves above the man appear as though they belong below him. the selective focus masks the wall that they sit on and puts the bench in an underground world. Once again the soft focus on the trees plays an important part of the transition. She effectively throws the top set back ground by choosing to only focus on the upper half of the images, making them feel distant while still retaining detail in the upper parts. 

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