Wednesday, Jun 26 2013 10:24 AM

Eye Gallery Chapter Three: Kristopher Stallworth shares his life through a lens

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    Photographer Kristopher Stallworth used a long exposure to get the effect in his photo contribution to the ongoing Eye Gallery narrative.

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    Kristopher Stallworth's piece for Eye Gallery.

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By STEFANI DIAS, Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

Although this isn't a photo finish, the artist behind Chapter Three in the Eye Gallery art series ventured a guess on how this musical story will end.

"One thought is that it will turn out to be a dream, " said Kristopher Stallworth. "But the last time I participated in a show like this, I learned that there is really no way to predict what the other artist will come up with."

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Chapter Three: Melody man

I have to choose: Stay in bed, try to forget and go back to sleep or follow the unknown into the courtyard. A moment later, as I emerge into the courtyard, the note repeats and begins to form into a melody. I feel myself drawn to the sound and catch a glimpse of the man at the back gate. The music seems to emanate from the figure, a strange sound that is also so familiar.

The 36-year-old assistant art professor at Bakersfield College offers another look at the mysterious man in the courtyard, whose story was introduced and expanded upon in the first two chapters of the "story." Stallworth surrounds him in light in a digital C-print (chromogenic), produced when the photographer created light trails with LEDs, "painting" the image using long exposure.

The bold image has a dreamy quality, something Stallworth intended to convey.

"I want the viewer to put themselves in the narrator's position. There should be a sense of waking/dreaming."

That quality also allowed a broad starting point for later artists in the series, which the photographer said was also an important consideration.

"The biggest challenge for me was deciding how to continue the story and how far to push it along. I was pretty early in the process and wanted to make sure to leave it open enough for the other artist while putting my own stamp on it as well."

Stallworth's stamp is unique as his style developed from his formative years living in Europe. Born in Charlotte, N.C., Stallworth spent his childhood in Linz, Austria, before returning to the U.S., attending high school in Kansas. Being exposed to two very different cultures played a factor in developing his art, specifically a series he created capturing the generic architecture we see across the U.S.

"I do think experiencing two cultures at a young age influenced me. In the series 'Everywhere/Nowhere, ' I was reacting to the homogenized American landscape, which was quite different from what I experienced growing up. I also think growing up in Austria, art and cultural events were more valued than in American schools."

After a brief exploration of drawing and painting, Stallworth focused on photography as a teen and stayed on track, earning his bachelor's in photography from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and his master of fine arts from the University of Memphis.

The photographer has shown his work in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Memphis and Woodstock, N.Y., as well as the Bakersfield Museum of Art and BC's Jones Gallery after moving to Bakersfield eight years ago with his wife, Carla.

 

What does your art say about you?

It's my exploration of the world around me. Photography gives me a reason to look at the landscape critically and examine my relationship with it.

 

When/how you knew art would be your passion:

I started in photography in high school and never looked back.

 

What drew you to photography as an art form?

I think there's something about the literal representation. Capturing something that happened in front of the camera that way. Something that is more familiar than in painting, which can be much more abstract.

I'm a fairly straightforward photographer in that sense. I try to find things that I find interesting and capture them in a straightforward way.

 

What was your process on this piece?

Specifically with this piece, I wanted to do this in camera -- long exposure, remote control flashes.

I wanted to create a single photograph without digital manipulation. I made a 10- to 20-second-long exposure and painted with LED lights to create light trails. I used an off-camera flash triggered by remote control to illuminate the figure.

 

What work are you proudest of?

My series "Everywhere/Nowhere." I looked at the generic places that surround us regardless of where we live. Shopping mall parking lots, the back of strip malls, big box retail stores ...

 

How hard is it to find a place to show your work publicly?

It can be a challenge locally, but there are more opportunities now than when I came to Bakersfield eight years ago. ... I'm open to showing work at any local galleries.

 

Memory of the first time you sold a piece of work:

As a graduate teaching assistant, one of my students bought a piece that I had shown in my thesis show.

It was from the series "Everywhere/Nowhere, " a 20-by-24-inch framed color print.

 

Most supportive mentor and why:

Bob Lewis. He was my thesis adviser in graduate school and taught me a lot about being an artist and a professor.

 

What are some other non-art passions?

Cycling, basketball

 

What kind of art speaks to you?

I'm fairly traditional when it comes to photography and really appreciate un-manipulated landscapes and cityscapes.

 

How to learn more about your work:

kstallworth.com

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