WILMINGTON, DE.- The Delaware Art Museum presents The Invented Worlds of Alida Fish, featuring 31 photographs by the Delaware Division of the Arts 2008 Masters Fellow in Visual Arts, on view November 1, 2008 February 8, 2009. While many photographers take their subjects from the world around them, Alida Fish imagines her own worlds, and uses traditional, historical, and digital processes to bring to life her amazing visions. The photographs in this exhibition date from 1983 through 2008, providing an overview of the past 25 years of Fishs career and her sustained involvement with manipulating objects, negatives, and prints to create evocative and unsettling images.
The photographic mediums include Ektacolor prints with hand-applied dyes and enamel; silver prints; and wet-plate collodion tintypes. In the earliest works here, Fish constructed tableaus of tortured flowers and imaginary creatures to photograph. These she printed in color, sometimes even painting with enamel on her prints, and her strange, invented animals resonate with images from National Geographic.
By the late 1990s, Fish was digitally combining negatives, which she then selectively toned and hand-printed, exploiting the tension between traditional and emerging technologies. In the Walking with Pygmalion series, sculptures seem to come alive, and the meeting of past and future is played out in the subject as well as the process.
Fishs most recent works are tintypes made from wet-plate collodion negatives. These too have been digitally altered, but any trace of the new is rendered invisible in the darkly beautiful prints. These are the contents of the Cabinet of Curiosities, obscure, suggestive objects found on Fishs own shelves and in the store rooms of small museums.
As often happens with artists who do strong and idiosyncratic work, the refinement and complexity of Fishs vision do not reveal themselves all at once, Bill Scott wrote in a review for Art in America in 1999. The longer one looks, the more one sees, and the more intriguing these images become. Best of all, even after extended inspection, they remain mystical, veiled and unpretentious.
In Delaware, this exhibition is made possible, in part, by grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
The child of an artistic family that encouraged creative expression, Alida Fish (born 1944) has been printing her own photographs since age seven. She graduated from Smith College before taking her first photography class at Harvard University. She then pursued her M.F.A. at Rochester Institute of Technology. Fish has honed her skills working with photographers Betty Hahn, John Pfahl, and Evon Streetman at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She is a Professor of Photography and senior faulty member in the Media Arts Department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has had many solo exhibitions and her work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, and the International Museum of Photography.