The Language of the LensPosted on: July 7, 2012 in Creativity & The Arts
Nidaa Aboulhosn, graduate student in photography in the College of Fine Arts, came to the UA to study photography. Various factors drew her, from the program’s rich history to its excellent reputation. But there was another factor, one that drew her focus down to one person.
“I chose to come to the U of A,” she says, “maybe because Frank Gohlke is teaching here.”
Dennis Jones, director of the School of Art, helped recruit Gohlke to the UA. He describes Golkhe as a “national treasure on the national and international scene of landscape photographers.”
“He is a two-time Guggenheim winner,” he says. “What’s amazing is to go to the Metropolitan Museum in New York or the Museum of Modern Art and see Frank Gohlke’s work hanging on exhibit there.”
Needless to say, Gohlke is extremely accomplished in his field. But he is also known as an excellent educator – personable and funny – but able to teach his students the language of the lens.
Using the Camera to Speak
For Aboulhosn, Gohlke’s talent lies in his abililty to capture deep meaning in his images. And it is that talent she wants to cultivate within herself as she strives to capture the landscapes of her home country, Lebanon.
“He (Gohlke) uses it more as a language, which is the way I work, too,” she says. “I’m not just interested in making pretty pictures or making conceptual work that illustrates an idea. It’s somewhere in between.”
Aboulhosn’s goal is to create photographs that serve as poems, using pictures like words in a sentence. Through her art, she tries to achieve a balance between thoughtful and spontaneous.
“There’s a method behind the work,” she says, “but it’s not over-calculated to the point of becoming formulaic or boring.”
She likens this perspective to Gohlke’s, which makes him a perfect teacher to help her achieve her artistic goals.
From the Teacher’s Perspective
Gohlke understands what makes for great art, both as an artist and as an observer. He describes mediocre art as something that can be easily ignored, and great art as something that piques the curiosity. And that is a great trick, because once an artist creates a piece, it is up to the audience to judge its quality.
“An artist is the last person you want to ask about the meaning of their work,” he says, “because they just do it. Once she’s done with it, it’s ours. We can do what we want with it. Including ignore it.”
Aboulhosn hopes to gain this kind of perspective – an understanding of what makes for great art – through her studies with Gohlke.
Likewise, Gohlke finds the greatest satisfaction in providing that education.
“Teaching at the University of Arizona is quite a privilege,” he says. “All you can do as a teacher and a mentor is get somebody started, because it’s a lifetime vocation to realize what’s in you.”
Train your focus on the photography program at the University of Arizona School of Art.