The beauty of Tina West's latest show lies in the maturity and wonder of her still lifes. For every photo, West stages her scene with unique treasures from her vast collection. Allowing them to speak to her, rather than the opposite, each object is chosen not because of an image West is trying to recreate from her mind, but because of each object's sheer attraction.
The sharp subconscious connection West feels to her still life objects comes across strongly. This produces a magical end product that has both transformed and repurposed the photographed objects entirely. Though still lifes are considered a classic image, West exemplifies a charming, experimental take that pushes the boundaries of the historical still life.
The invitational image, entitled "Constraint Inspires Creativity," embodies the breadth of her work in capturing a warm rich okra-gold "Do Not Disturb" sign against a similar background. The photo feels cryptic and almost treasure-like, giving the viewer a hint of her alluded creativity. The title is just as interactive, playing not only off the sign's words but also off the image's overall emotion. West's still lifes have a true sense of being, with powerful cast shadows and light-play. This creates a connection not only between the objects photographed, but between the viewer and the photograph as well. West uses instant Fuji Film in her 4x5 camera, evoking a sense of nostalgia in the show.
In another image, entitled "History is about Change," West captures two antique photos of young boys against a thick textured background. Like before, the poignant portraits reflect the same message as the title of the photo, causing a cyclical relationship; two aged photos captured on a modern camera. The viewer is sent back and forth between eras, comparing and contrasting the noted changes. Though West draws a lot of her inspiration from the objects themselves, artists like Gerhardt Richter and studies of surrealism serve as inspiration too. She sees her photos more as paintings, which genuinely speaks to their unreserved timelessness.