The environments I have photographed in Italy have provided me with an impressive array of ancient architectural elements and contemporary landscape spaces with which to work. These components are constantly activated by a combination of color, form, texture and light that seems unique to these places. I began this body of work in 2002 and followed that trip with visits in 2004 and 2006, aided by faculty development grants and a sabbatical leave in 2006 from Bard College at Simon's Rock.
In this exhibition my goal has been to explore the interaction of space and form, particularly the way that images can merge compositional constructions with echoes of particular places. I want to maintain the integrity of the location, while stressing the structural and formal aspects of the scene. The idea of focusing on the ruins of an architecture and world that was established nearly two thousand years ago presents an interesting and challenging vehicle for a contemporary photographer.
In some of this work, I have explored the idea of a visual "window" or aperture as a design element that allows the viewer to focus on a particular fragment or component of an overall composition. By framing such a segment, whether it is through the use of a doorway, opening or natural formation, a more complex visual experience is presented.
Since I began working on prints in the early sixties, I've always focused on form, shape, texture and structure when designing my images, whether they were landscapes, figurative work or pure abstractions. I especially like to explore views and viewpoints which are not completely obvious to the casual viewer. My wife, Louise, has often said that although we frequently go to the same places and look at the same things, she is usually surprised by what I photograph and how it examines scenes and scenarios that she has often overlooked.
While many of the areas in which these photographs were taken were ones that I had visited several times before, over a period of six years, I always react to what is in front of my camera lens, rather than having a preconceived idea of what I will photograph. In that way, the subject matter is fairly spontaneous, even though the context or location is established in advance. I also usually do some research before visiting a site to get a feeling for what I might encounter and some idea of the historical background of the location. I often take many shots of the scene or objects I'm photographing, but I usually have a good sense of what I want. I take a large number of photographs when I'm out shooting, knowing that I will focus and work on only a small number (my guess is that from my 2006 trip, I'll wind up processing and printing about 50 of the 3,000 images I captured).
I've been seriously engaged in making images for over forty-five years, and every image I make has always been personal and meaningful to me. Actually, I think that the "process" of making images is what has been the most exciting and rewarding part of all of this - exploring ideas, form and structure, and the technical manipulation of the materials. I also love visiting Italy - the images from this exhibition are from Rome, Fiesole, Ostia Antica, Lucca, Florence, Tuscany, and Venice - and I hope some of my passion for these places shows through in these prints.
About the Artist
Arthur Hillman is a photographer, printmaker and designer who has been exhibiting his prints for nearly forty-five years. This is his twenty-first one-person show and he has had work included in many national print exhibitions and group exhibits including ones at the Dulin Gallery of Art, Hunterdon Art Center, Northern Illinois University, Philadelphia Print Club, Pratt Graphics Center, University of North Dakota, Berkshire Museum, G.W.V. Smith Art Museum, Williams College and the Library of Congress. His prints, photographs, digital prints and artists’ books are included in collections throughout the country.
He has delivered lectures and presentations on photography and printmaking all through the Berkshires and is a founding member of the Berkshire Photography Group.
Mr. Hillman received a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art and his MFA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Beginning in 1968, he taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and was chairman of the Printmaking Department from 1970-1974. He has been on the Visual Arts faculty of Simon's Rock College of Bard for the past thirty-three years and is currently the head of the Division of Arts at the college.