Photos by JCC Alum, Janelle Lynch, On Display At Weeks Gallery
Under the hood of a large and fragile 8 by 10 inch film camera, Janelle Lynch feels the magic.
While the large-format photographer is typically by herself among the wilderness, Lynch is not alone.
“What happens under the cloth is magical,” Lynch said. “I’m under there and my other senses are somewhat dulled. My sense of hearing is dulled. Under this cloth, there’s this quiet, private space that is created between what I see on the ground glass — the image — and myself and all that I bring to that moment.”
Lynch graduated from Jamestown High School in 1987 and followed suit at Jamestown Community College in 1990. After commencement, the city native was off to Europe, purchasing a one-way ticket to traverse the continent. Deciding to leave the country for the first time was “audacious,” as Lynch described it. Much like her passion for photography, the urge to explore was innate.
Lynch’s work is currently featured in a collection titled “Luminous Landscapes” at Jamestown Community College inside the Weeks Gallery until March 30. Lynch’s large-format photographs are from her collection titled “Presence” that she took during her residency at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. She was the first artist-residence at the Buffalo-based museum with much of the work taken at a nature preserve across from the former home of painter Charles Burchfield.
She currently teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York City while some of her work is currently in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She has also been the subject of three monographs published by Radius Books. “Another Way of Looking at Love,” her most recent work, is shortlisted for the Prix Pictet 2019, the leading global prize in photography.
Lynch previously completed two projects based in the Jamestown area. With each visit back to the region, she admits it “feels like coming home.”
At “home” is where she was first introduced to photography. One of Lynch’s earliest memories is of her being photographed as a 3-year-old at a studio in Jamestown owned by a friend of the family. She credits her grandfather, a “serious” amateur photographer, for her eventual love of photography. She also credits her grandmother for her love for nature, which is featured heavily in her work.
“I didn’t know photography would be my life’s work and love …” she said, trailing off to explain how she got to this point.
When she moved to New York City after her travels in Europe she studied photography only to later drop out to pursue creative writing. She cited the intimidating aspects of photography and making a living as an artist as factors for changing paths. Her current writing focuses on photography, so her primary artform was and is still present when switching to words.
Years after dropping out, she found her way back to the craft — one she was introduced to at such an early age.
“When I was in my mid-20s I knew, I knew that I had to pursue photography,” Lynch said. “My body told me that.”
She later earned her master’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Early on, she recalls using a camera her mother bought her at the age of 10 to take snap shots of her family. Lynch also took photography classes at JHS which helped lead to her current profession. She added that the environment of Jamestown and Chautauqua County most likely influenced her too.
“I think I always photographed intermittently from the time I was 10, but then once I started graduate school in 1997 I have not stopped,” she said.
She only recently began professionally shooting people. Before she would photograph mostly wilderness and objects, but she attempts to anthropomorphize the non-living. However, she admits enjoying taking portraits of the living.
In the wild, alone, much like the title of her 2013 collection, she carries with her the presence of those who have influenced her craft. She honored that influence in her work by naming many of her photographs after people who made an impact on her. One is named after Anthony Bannon, former two-time director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Another is is named in honor of her grandmother.
Sitting inside the Weeks Gallery 20 feet away from four of her photographs included in the “Presence” collection, she recalled what Bannon had once told her before she started that piece of work.
“You have free reign, but whatever you do it has to be true,” Bannon said.
“That resonated so deeply because I believe in it,” Lynch said. “It is how I live life and therefore how I have worked and one of the things that guided me as I made this body of work.”
Included in the exhibition are a selection of 19th century paintings from JCC’s permanent collection as well as works by contemporary regional painters Thomas Annear of Fredonia, Thomas Kegler of East Aurora, and Mikel Wintermantel of Allegany.
The works exploring the play of light, color, and atmosphere on the landscape. Reminiscent of works from the Hudson River School art movement, they reflect the grandeur of nature and share a reverence of the spiritual, offering viewers a space to reflect on the natural world and their place within it.
Annear, a native of Virginia who moved to Fredonia in 2000, graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in fine arts. His work, he notes, has shifted from political and abstract pieces to paintings that focus on contemporary uses of our environment and a strong sense of place.
Kegler, a self-taught painter, producer, and certified teacher, is internationally recognized as an associate living master by the prestigious Art Renewal Center, master Roycroft artisan, member of the Salmagundi Club, painting instructor for the Grand Central Academy in New York City, and senior fellow with the Hudson River Fellowship.
Kegler’s traditional oil paintings of landscapes, still lifes, and figures draw from the masters’ approach to the canvas. Revisiting the processes and techniques of the “Old Masters” in light of classical and contemporary subjects guides his expression of life’s subtleties.
His work has been shown internationally and has been featured in notable magazines and publications including American Arts Quarterly. His paintings reside in several prominent collections throughout the world.
Kegler is committed to the consistent growth and development of his skills and to the promotion of art education with an emphasis on classical techniques. He self-produced a documentary video focused on traditional plein air painting approaches.
Wintermantel is a landscape painter and Copley master living and working in Allegany. A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Wintermantel also studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the State University of New York at Potsdam. He has received numerous awards and has exhibited extensively throughout the Northeast.