By Debbie Wells
“I sometimes feel like I’m in a dream, where things are not what they seem but serve as clues to a deeper, more elusive truth. That truth is revealed to me more vividly through the camera lens than through the naked eye. I see textures, and layers, and the way objects interact in geometric patterns to form other creations. I see shadows and reflections and the blur of human motion, and sometimes an incongruous fusion of all these elements. What I see in the camera lens joins with the impressions stamped in my mind’s eye, informing the images that are printed and framed and seen here. In essence, I translate the real into the surreal. A world that I can dream in as well as live in.” – Joan Weiss
A Passion for Photography
Joan Weiss has experienced life in virtually every part of the New York Area: Born and bred in Brooklyn, moved to Manhattan after college, raised her family in Queens and is currently residing in Long Island. She holds every part of her life close to her heart, from her childhood summer memories in Coney Island to her visits to sites in New York City and even right in her own backyard in Jericho, Long Island. Throughout her life, she readily admits that photography was always a love of hers.
Weiss is an award-winning editor in the healthcare and science fields and the author of three books on parenting (which sold over 100,000 copies!) Although she had a successful career as a writer, it is not words, but images that now fascinate her as a photographer. Her main focus is currently on her art and enjoying the places it takes her.
“My first formal training took place at Cornell University, where I amazed my friends by signing up for early Saturday morning photography classes. My next stop was Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. As my classmates and I hunted down the news in the streets of New York, I would often be the one wielding the camera rather than the reporter’s pad. While I might not have an artist’s hand, I do have a photographer’s eye, made sharper by my training at Cornell and Columbia,” states Weiss.
Her Photographic Style; Brooklyn to Barcelona (and Beyond)
Joan describes her thoughts on photography as “Everyone has his or her own vision of the world. My photos express mine. And I would like to share it with you.”
Her compositions are striking with colorful sections filled with texture and motion. She has a finely tuned sense for color combinations and shapes that draw the viewer in, whether the image is realistically recognizable or abstract. They invite the eye in to linger through the image looking for clues in its beauty and tonal range. Although the abstractions are mesmerizing, the imagery is mostly evident upon examination.
Her international travels include Spain, Ireland, France and Switzerland. In each country, she captures its architectural sights in her unique style. She knows her work stands out and explains, “When I travel and my fellow tourists look in one direction to snap a photo, I invariably aim my camera in the other. When I see exhibits of other artists’ photos, I am stunned by how different most of the work is from my own. While this concerned me at first, I was assured by experts that this is a good thing, that my work is edgy, unique, – and it is me.”
Sharing Her Art with the World
Joan is a very friendly and bubbly person. This quality has helped her launch her work into the professional art world – slowly, yet surely. She consistently welcomes advice and feedback from the experts she encounters when showing her photographs. This type of openness is so crucial when the artist begins seriously promoting one’s work.
“When I took my photos to be framed, I was asked by store owners whether they could have a print to be shown on consignment. My photographs have been on display in stores where interior decorators shopped. At photo labs, I was told that photographs I had taken as a class assignment were of exhibition quality. A lab in Chelsea advised me to take my work to a restaurant/gallery across the street that put on monthly exhibits, which led to my first showing. In 2015, my work has been on view at the Community Church of East Williston and the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills.”
Her willingness to show her photographs at a variety of venues and work on consignment is a wonderful way for her to explore her value in the art world. When art lovers speak of her photographs, the words “edgy”, “surreal” and abstract impressionistic” are often expressed. Actually, when she walked into A Photographer’s Place in Williston Park, she asked the owner, Michael Horowitz, if he ever hangs exhibitions at his space. He told her he hadn’t come across a photographer whose work he would like to show in over a year – until he saw Joan’s portfolio!
From then on, Horowitz has served as her mentor in translating the images in my mind to images on paper that are worthy of being exhibited in this space. His digital imaging laboratory services are perfectly suited to work with Joan’s material, including working with Photoshop, making them a perfect creative team.
For more information, call 516-746-8400
or visit www.aphotographerspace.org.