Improvisational Topography #60; Photography; 18” x 22.5”
Whitney Point, NY
Improvisational Topography #60 is from my ongoing series called...you guessed it...Improvisational Topography (Impro Topo, for short). It is a straight abstract photograph of the downstairs bathroom curtain in my house. The series, 11 images and counting, is a collection of photographs of only that one curtain, so far. I’m milking that curtain for all it can provide. But I’m not really photographing the curtain. I’m photographing light and shadow, line and shape, tone and texture, after - full disclosure here - I’ve manipulated the fabric by wadding, twisting and crumpling to see what happens. That’s the improvisational part. The topography is the landscape of the fabric AND the landscape of my mind - my experiences, ideology, imagination - which produces my interpretation of what’s there. I have differing interpretations of Impro Topo #60, but I'm reluctant to share them. Partly because I’m quite suggestible myself I hesitate to prejudice how you construe what’s here. I would be very interested in knowing what you see. You’ll likely have another interpretation based on YOUR life, a takeaway not remotely close to mine. I would be thrilled if you see what I see, but I offer the pieces in this series for interpretation, not indoctrination. With the Impro Topo series I’m trying to follow the advice I offer to my photography students: stare, observe, allow the self to disappear and to be absorbed into your surroundings. All this in service to seeing what’s there, connecting with it, creating a relationship with it, whether you’re surrounded by pristine wilderness or looking at a curtain in your downstairs bathroom.
About the Artist
JW Johnston is a fine art photographer and teacher following a 20-year-career in broadcast journalism. He quit to pursue his first love, photography. JW studied photography at Syracuse University and Northern Virginia Community College. To teach himself large format film photography, JW hiked and camped alone throughout Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia, photographing the park's waterfalls. To practice the craft and pay the bills, he worked as a photographer's assistant with DC-area photographers. His work was exhibited at the Ralls Collection in Georgetown and the Washington Center for Photography. Shortly after he moved back to his boyhood home in Whitney Point, NewYork, Shenandoah Waterfalls premiered as a solo exhibition in 2004 at Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts in Binghamton, NY. Several solo and group exhibitions followed, including Transcendence: Photographing the Unseen, a major solo show in 2008 at the Orazio Salati Studio and Gallery in Binghamton. Legendary abstract photographer Carl Chiarenza selected JW’s work for the international juried show - Abstract Expressions - at Middlebury, Vermont’s PhotoPlace Gallery in 2012. That same year, Black&White Magazine published a two-page spread of his work. In 2013, WSKG Public Television profiled him on its Artist Cafe program, a segment that has since aired across the country -http://www.wskg.org/show/jw-johnston-photographer. JW’s prints are in a growing number of private, corporate, and institutional collections. JW is an adjunct instructor of photography at SUNY Broome Community College in Binghamton. He also develops and conducts independent workshops. He is a respected judge of many photography competitions.JW lives in Whitney Point with his wife, Sharon Ball. His work can be viewed atwww.jwjohnston.com