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Celebrating Photography: Timothy McCoy’s Palladium Prints at CAC

Douglasville Celebrates Photography: Timothy McCoy’s Palladium Prints at the Cultural Arts Center.

The Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County presents “Sanctuary: Palladium Prints by Timothy McCoy” during October in conjunction with Atlanta Celebrates Photography, a month-long celebration throughout greater metropolitan Atlanta with more than 200 exhibits, lectures and special events. 

The exhibition, which includes 35 extraordinary images created with a large format camera and printed on translucent vellum, will be on view through October 25th at the Cultural Arts Center. Hosted by the Sweetwater Camera Club, the opening reception will be on Thursday, Oct. 3, from 6 until 9 p.m. The artist will be present; and pianist and music educator Neil Pollock will perform. On Sunday, Oct. 5, from 3 until 5 p.m., a special gallery talk and exhibition tour will also be offered.  During the gallery talk, Timothy McCoy will demonstrate his contemporary application of the archaic palladium printing process and discuss his use of an antique camera. Both events are free and open to the general public.

Photographed in various European locations, remote areas of the British isles and other historic and atmospheric natural places, McCoy’s portfolio of images on display in this year’s Douglasville Celebrates Photography show at the Cultural Arts Center focus upon his theme of “Sanctuary,” the shared human impulse to escape from fear and loss toward a safe haven, with hope and refuge. The artist is concerned with Jungian archetypes, the universal symbols of human consciousness, rather than the documentation of individual experiences. Thus, the viewer sees the welcoming glow of lights leading upward to an impregnable mountain top fortress in the rich darkness of his “Madonna at Midnight,” photographed in Italy; the somewhat careening narrative of figures including someone pushing a baby buggy, across a bustling piazza beneath lowering clouds in “The Race;” and the primeval peacefulness of a natural Eden in “Pas de Deux”’s vision of a rush-bordered pond in a mountainous landscape. McCoy considers and captures a symbolic universe – a tower, a tree and low-lying clouds in “Eternal Watchfulness,” represent celestial guardians; “Begin, Walk, On” illustrates the journey itself, the active search for sanctuary which can be found or lost; the ruins of “The Last Refuge,” according to the artist, represents “history as a process of decay, neglect and loss,” with its crumbling castle peak, rather than documenting the site of the massacre of Cathar heretics in 1244.

“Photography involves a radical re-framing of reality. Meaning is often determined as much as by what is "cut" from the framing of the images as it is by those elements that are revealed in detail. I have largely excluded human figures, although humanity is alluded to through cultural icons and remnants. Consequently the focus is on what humans leave behind rather than the fleeting aspects of contemporary life,” states McCoy. “In my work, there is always an added dimension beyond concrete reality. Images and their titles do not document reality but are landscapes populated by a ‘forest of symbols.’ The symbolic content is meant to be archetypal—presenting some archaic concern embedded in the human psyche. The metaphorical references are repeated, contrasted, and amplified from image to image giving them an allegorical or narrative structure. Some of the symbol/symbolic concept pairs are: water/the unconscious, river/the passage of time; island/sanctuary, refuge; ruin/the neglected past; and light/knowledge, purity.”

For “Sanctuary,” McCoy who attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (and who has studied with Frederick Sommer, Dick Arentz, Joyce Tenneson, John Sexton, Tillman Crane, Marie Cosindas and Jane Tuckerman), used the “alternative process” of palladium printing. He enlarged the 8 by 10 inch negatives from his antique large format Deardorff field camera to create 16 by 20 inch images printed on translucent vellum paper. Each image is printed in a very limited edition of 15. The vellum is coated with a pure palladium metal solution, exposed to ultraviolet light, and then developed in warm potassium oxalate. As the artist explains, “The combination of heated development of the palladium coating on the translucent vellum produced the brownish image that resembles parchment -- an allusion to the passage of time. The hard paper surface yielded exquisite detail and an etching-like effect, thus partially denying the image’s origin as a photograph and emphasizing my interpretative rather than documentary intent.”

The Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County is located at 8652 Campbellton Street in historic downtown Douglasville, Georgia, located about 20 miles from Atlanta and just off I-20 (exit 36). Hours of operation are Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The Cultural Arts Council and its exhibitions at the Cultural Arts Center are supported by its members, sponsors, the City of Douglasville, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, and the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations from the General Assembly of Georgia; Georgia Council is also supported in by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art. For detailed directions and more information, please contact the Cultural Arts Council at 770-949-2787 or visit www.artsdouglas.org.

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