By Edward J. Sozanski, Inquirer Art Critic, Fri, Nov. 19, 2004
Even though photographic technology has metamorphosed
dramatically in recent years, manipulation of light remains the medium's
fundamental tactic. Light not only delineates content, it sometimes
Lisa Tyson Ennis of West Chester uses light this way, to
transform ordinary scenes in a way that creates atmosphere and mood, her
ultimate subjects. In doing so, she works much like the symbolist
artists of a century ago, whose target was less the eye than the
Ennis' exhibition at the Wexler Gallery consists of toned
silver prints, mostly landscapes, many of those involving water views.
She photographs at times of day when sunlight is relatively dim, which
imparts a romantic cast to everything she shoots.
Add to that the pale sepia toning, and a sensation of stopped
or blurred motion that suggests time exposures, and you get the archaic
look of 19th-century photographs.
You also get a pronounced feeling of stopped time, not the
clarifying instant in the present but the otherworldly sense of looking
backward at the past.
Water, which flattens out to a mirror surface in slow or
prolonged exposures, is the perfect instrument for generating this
time-machine effect. That's apparently why Ennis so often focuses on
partially submerged jetties, rowboats at anchor, and large rocks poking
out of water.
This kind of photography could easily drift into cliché, but
Ennis studiously avoids banality. Her images combine pleasing
proportions of naturalism, poetry and mystery, finished off with the
soft toning that announces a sidestep out of the real world.
Wexler Gallery, 201 N. Third St.