Photographs of women by Neil Selkirk, known for his powerful and uncompromising portraiture, will be on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery from March 19 – May 2, 2015. Certain Women delves into the realm of motherhood, exploring the secrets hidden in faces of the subjects’ common experience. The images were taken from Vermont to the Carolinas, and New York to Montana, between 1991 and 2009. A hand–bound, limited–edition book containing 44 individually signed prints accompanies the exhibition.
In the course of his daily routine as a parent dropping his children off at school in Lower Manhattan, Selkirk was continually struck by the stature and bearing of his female contemporaries, the mothers of his generation who — in juggling jobs, family, and the illusion of personal fulfillment — were now suddenly, for the first time, expected to be able to have it all. The project grew into a series of extended road trips, eventually spanning nearly 20 years and much of the country.
Selkirk selected his subjects at random. The only requirement was that the each of the women had a child between the ages of 10 and 20. Selkirk felt that after 10 years of motherhood, the experience had left its mark and the wisdom gained from being a parent was fully ingrained.
The images in Certain Women are a unique marriage of photographic techniques. Selkirk used a huge wood and leather view camera, developed the 11x14 inch film in his darkroom, then scanned the negatives (fortunately before Hurricane Sandy flooded his studio). He printed the film digitally using a remarkable number of grey inks. The combination of the large film negatives and the unprecedented tonal range of the archival digital printing technology produced images of unusual depth. The large prints were then embedded in massive thick slabs of glass, and appear to float off the wall in a state of permanent suspension.