Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A little more than a year ago Rachael Short, local photographer and co-owner of Carmel’s EXPOSED gallery, was paralyzed in a car accident in Big Sur. The diagnosis was devastating: a “C5-C6 fracture,” a vertebra and spine dislocation.
Ever since that tragic Halloween night, the 29-year-old Short has tirelessly worked on her recovery and continues to have faith that one day she’ll be able to walk and surf again. Her passion for photography also abides: Since the days in the hospital following the accident, Short never considered abandoning her career. This Friday’s A Miniature Show at EXPOSED presents vivid evidence to that effect.
“It feels good to have some life brought back into the space,” she says.
The 133-square-foot spot – which may be the littlest amongst Carmel’s plethora of galleries – is definitely an appropriate venue for a show featuring all photos that are no more than 6-by-9 inches.
“I’m excited that we’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing,” says Short’s gallery partner Evynn LeValle. “It brings a lot of hope and light back.”
Some of the 13 photographers involved include Tom and Casey O’Neal, Kim Weston, Doug Steakley, Michelle Magdalena and Robin Robinson.
“There’s a collaboration of both well-known and new artists,” LeValle says.
Adds Short, “These are good holiday gift ideas because they’re small, the prices are lower and many of the photos are one-of-a-kind.”
Tom O’Neal’s black-and-white photos document his trip to Zaire in the 1970s and the constant presence of poverty and military there. Steakley’s miniatures feature animals uninterrupted in the wild, including lions on the prowl and a baby elephant with its mother. And Weston’s works offer a mixed-media approach of oil paint applied to softly lit black-and-white nudes.
It’s hard not be enthralled with Short’s three new pieces (she also shows three never-been-shown gelatin prints she completed before the accident) entitled “Light,” “Life” and “Love.” The 35mm Polaroid transfers onto watercolor paper are no larger than postcards and each one features a shot of Short’s hands in positions representative of the photo’s theme. The idea for the series came to Short about a year before the accident.
“I wanted to document my age each year with a photo of my hands,” she says. “But now I’m documenting the change of my hand movement.”
“Love,” the most recent of the three photos, features Short’s hands forming a heart. A year ago, Short couldn’t move her hands at all. Today, after investing as many as 30 hours a week in exhausting physical therapy over the course of a year, she can control her motorized wheelchair and operate her smartphone. For her photos, she sets up the scenes – like a director would with a cinematographer on a movie set – and gets help from LeValle to snap the frames.
At a glance, her three new pieces appear small and simple. A closer look reveals depth and texture and technique that hold both the viewer’s gaze and imagination. A closer look at the struggle to achieve hand mobility, meanwhile, reveals that Short’s most diminutive works are a huge accomplishment.
A MINIATURE SHOW opens 5-8pm Friday, Nov. 25, at EXPOSED, San Carlos and Seventh, Carmel. Free. 917-3450.