Rarefied Light

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2003

The statewide traveling exhibition "Rarefied Light" is in part designed to showcase the versatility and innovations of Alaskans working in the photography medium. This year it showcases the creativity and expertise of two local artists as well.

Marty Hapeman of Kasilof and Clayton Hillhouse of Soldotna had pieces chosen for annual juried photography show, which is on display at the Kenai Peninsula College Art Gallery.

For Hillhouse, this is his first time having a piece accepted in the show.

"I'm really tickled," he said. "There's a number of pieces (in the show) I really like. In fact I've learned quite a bit by looking at them. ... I've gotten some inspiration from several other photographs there. You can tell there was a lot of thought put into them."

Hillhouse's piece is "Flowers Sensuous," a vertical color print of two vibrant tiger breath hibiscus flowers. Hillhouse used a digital camera to take the close-up images of the flowers. He manipulated the image of the top flower on his computer by flipping it upside down to suggest the flower is being reflected in water.

Digital cameras and computer manipulation of images is all fair game in the "Rarefied Light" show, as it encourages artists to step beyond the standard forms of photography.


"Peace" by Marty Hapeman of Kasilof

"(The show) did give a lot of weight to innovation, something that wasn't just a repeat of something that's already done," Hillhouse said.

Hillhouse's interest in photography stretches back about 50 years, he estimates. He branched out into digital photography after playing around with a digital camera and some computer photography manipulation software. He also has taken art and photography classes at Kenai Peninsula College, both at the Soldotna and Homer campuses.

Now that he is semi-retired from being an electrical contractor, he is considering making art more of a full-time occupation than a hobby.

For Hapeman, an art framer, artist and owner of Art Works in Soldotna, art already is a full time occupation. This is her second time having work accepted into "Rarefied Light." She had a series of scratched mirror images displayed in last year's show. This year she has two mixed media pieces included in the show.

One is "Peace," another mirror scratching piece. Hapeman uses a solvent to scratch the reflective surface off of a square of mirror in a certain design. She then places an image collage behind the mirror so the color and design of the collage shows through, surrounded by the remaining mirrored surface.

"Elfen Dream" is Hapeman's other piece. It is a manipulated Polaroid picture of a person in a stretching-like pose. Hapeman moved the emulsion of the pictures while it was still developing to give it interesting texture and color.


"Elfen Dream" by Marty Hapeman of Kasilof

Hapeman's work is typically full of many different elements.

"I can't seem to do anything that isn't mixed media," she said. "I'm really process oriented and I really like different materials. Photography is wonderful and I like it just all by itself, but I always want to do something else to it. It's like the way that I cook. I can't stand to bake food because you prepare it, then you put it in the oven and have to wait. But I love to cook Chinese food because you're cutting and cooking and then you're eating -- it's a completely involved process and I like that about mixed media. It's an alchemy. There's so many elements and you never know what it's going to do."

Since "Rarefied Light" is so open to new and different uses of photography, it is a good match for Hapeman's artistic characteristics.

"I think it's a good show," she said. "I like it -- the variety. And it sure seems like the personalities of the artists are obvious. There are really contrasting personalities of the pieces."

"Rarefied Light" will be on display at KPC through Feb. 7. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Following the photography show, "Dysfun-ctional Ware," a ceramics show by Libby Berezin, will go on display.

"I think that (people) should get to the college regularly to see the shows as they change because there's always something interesting going on there," Hapeman said.

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