Webster U gallery offers smorgasbord of photo talent

“Dancing in Light” by Kristen Pruser

By Sarah Weinman

The exhibition C-15: A New Process at the May Gallery at Webster University is a visual feast of photographs: portraits, architecture, and composite images in color and black-and-white. There’s a lot of talent here; it was difficult to focus on just three pictures.

Kristen Pruser’s inkjet print titled Dancing in Light depicts a male dancer in an airy, almost ethereal studio. The floor, window frames, columns, hand rail, and even the diffuse light coming in through the wall of windows are all white. The dancer grips the hand rail with both hands and leaps off the floor, his legs stiff and angular as an open pair of scissors. His body is all angles, in harmony with the angles of the room. “My vision with the project was all about contrast of light, using high key and low key lighting,” explains Pruser. “I always wanted to photograph in that studio.” A sense of lightness pervades the image not only because of the photographic technique but also because the dancer seems weightless, suspended. 

My favorite architectural piece is Untitled by Ashley Pieper. She photographed the side of a building looking straight up through the camera lens. “This is a building I walked by daily when I lived in Chicago,” she says. The building’s large windows reflect the cloud-flecked sky. Triangular balconies jut out at the left of the image. With a little imagination, this view can turn horizontal so that the side of the building becomes a sidewalk or some futuristic pathway. Windows look into the street and the balconies become a row of pyramids receding in space. “I was going for an abstract feel,” Pieper continues. “You might not even know you were looking at a building.”

Jennifer Suntinger created her beautifully whimsical composite image Chobit in the Night by digitally compiling more than eight photographs. A purple moon in a starlit, partly cloudy sky hovers over the dormers of a house. On the lamppost lantern perches a modern-day fairy in a light blue shift with long trails of cloth. Purple ribbons lace their way up her left leg and arm. She sits in profile, hugging her right knee, her face turned toward the viewer. She has blonde hair almost as long as she is tall, small white angular wings, and she grins as if she just cast a mischievous spell. Suntinger takes the subject of this piece from cosplay (costume play), in which participants dress up as characters from comic books or video games. “I wanted to do more than take pictures of cosplayers,” she explains. “I want to immerse them in the world where their characters reside.”

C-15: A New Process runs through July 31 and is on view at the May Gallery at Webster University. The gallery is located on the second floor of the west wing of the Sverdrup Building at 8300 Big Bend Blvd. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. For more information, call 314-246-7673 or visit www.webster.edu/maygallery.