Monday, December 10, 2012

Lights and Shadows: Flash Photography...of a Flash

© 2012 Dean Davis 

If you made it down to First Friday (on December 7th), you may have wandered into Barrister Winery and seen the photography of Dean Davis lining the walls--and the subject is an interesting one: light bulbs.  Each is a different kind of bulb, with varying glass shapes, wiring, screw caps, etc.  Half are large gallery wrapped canvas pieces, and half are (slightly smaller) encaustic over photography, meaning that there is a layer of hot beeswax applied as a finish.  The larger-than-life representations of the bulbs highlight their intricacy, as all the tiny details are made easily visible.  Each light bulb appears to float above a surface, evidenced by a shadow slightly below the bulb, and each one seems to emit its own light.  The apparent weightlessness of the bulbs may perhaps be suggestive of the true subject matter that Davis is portraying: the light itself.  The bulbs, while aesthetically pleasing, are merely a housing for the light--almost being held up by the light--as it radiates everywhere.

The most intriguing thing about Davis' photographs is that each of them depicts the very source of his medium.  The word "photography" originates from the Greek words photos, meaning light, and graphos, meaning writing; literally, a photographer is "writing with light" (although many prefer saying that they "paint with light").  For each photograph, at least the ones in which natural light is not sufficient, the photographer uses some artificial light source (light bulbs!) to illuminate his or her subject, and then captures the resulting image.  In a way, Davis' light bulb series is a sort of internal view of photography.  It is flipping the lens around on itself, staring back into the core of photography.

Personally, as I reflect on this series, I find that it encourages a parallel introspection of my own light source.  Each of us shines, internally.  Each of us has a glow that radiates outward, illuminating our passions and our pleasures; our strengths and our weaknesses; our likenesses and our differences among our peers.  Taking a moment now and then to gaze inward and remember what our own light source(s) are is a healthy, and arguably necessary, thing to do.  It is a personal reminder of self, what makes you the very beautiful you that you are.


So take an introspective second and gaze upon your own light bulb, and then go see Dean Davis' show, Lights and Shadows, at Barrister Winery...or maybe the other way around so that you can engage in said introspection over a glass of wine...your call!  The show runs through December 31, 2012.

Dean Davis, along with his personal projects, has also done professional commercial photography since 1997.  Learn more about him online at

Barrister Winery is located at 1213 West Railroad Ave. in downtown Spokane, WA, right in the midst of the historic Davenport Arts District.  Visit them online at


  1. Great connection between subject matter and representation. Light influences so much of what we do. It's the primary source for life on our planet, and we capture it so well. In these little glass bulbs. This sounds like a really interesting show, both visually and theoretically. Looking at photography from both sides of the lens, what an idea.

  2. I think your interpretation of this series is very well thought out. I believe that it is very important to examine the meaning behind each decision the artist makes for their work. It's interesting to think of how our own artwork reflects on what kind of light we possess in our own hearts. This is a wonderful example of how art can be so much more than an arbitrary expression.

  3. An intriguing take on displayed art. Gives an "organic" feeling, the impression of the piece being alive. Shows and and displays like this seem to be in the rise today. Whether it be a kinetic piece, viewer interactivity, or a piece that is completely self contained and able to be viewed in a dark room alone. While this leads to many pieces being slapped together quickly and lacking any sort of "work" being shown in the piece. This seems to have taken time and reflects the work put into it very well. I hope to get a chance to view the display. Seems like a piece everyone can pull inspiration from.