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Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz: Photographic Interpretations


Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz: Photographic Interpretations

Above: Darwin's Hummingbird, The Art of Money

By Sharon Feissel

Life requires meaning as an underpinning for our sense of value and satisfaction, but the potential meaning isn’t always obvious.  We often deal in interpretation and symbolism—knowingly or unknowingly.  Psychologist Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz knows this very well.  “I understand that things aren’t always what they seem.  Perhaps this comes from both my life experience and my profession. I am aware that life is complex, layered, multifaceted.  In our lives we always communicate with the past and the present.  We always dance with our history, whether we want that particular partner or not.”    

Parisian Beauty by Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz“My portfolio includes traditional photographic images, some with in-camera special effects, and those transformed later in the studio with digital effects.  My work is painterly in intent and straddles the worlds of photography and painting, as well as the worlds of the present and the past.  Images often don’t look like photographs, because the original image is layered with other images, resulting in textures more like a painting, etching or drawing. These images are not what they seem on first viewing.  They evoke a sense of mystery and curiosity, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the hidden, intangible worlds of memory, history, and fantasy, and to create their own stories about the images.”   

This approach underlies several series. In Contemporary Vintage Photography and The Art of Money, statuary figures, cigar box images, figures from currency, etc., are removed from their context and reworked.  Stephanie says, “I photograph with a portraitist’s eye.  Without the external distractions, the viewer can focus on the faces, the history, and the character, as in Parisian Beauty.”  The Orchid’s Birth from Images from Persephone’s Studio is a floral portrait transformed to resemble watercolor paintings.  Street Art: The Art of Transience presents street art from around the world.  Stephanie says, “My goal is to defy a work’s natural transience and eventual death by providing visual immortality to evocative street images like The Aviator’s Daughter.” 

The Aviator's Daughter by Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz

Her current Riverfront Art Gallery show, The Water and the Spirits Moved Me: New Work from Venice, presents images, like Ruskin’s Venice, just as photographed—blurred by the motion of her body or of a gondola or vaporetto upon canal or lagoon waters.  The images are symbolic, underscoring how unclear life can be on the surface, yet, as Stephanie says, “If you look into the images, you find the details and, potentially, the meaning.  This show is my intimate and emotional view of Venice, this city that I love, because she is a resilient beauty who simply will not give up and succumb to the perils that assault her.”

Concluding, Stephanie says, “A friend asked if I considered myself primarily a photographer or an artist and thus whether my photographs are the end-point of my work or simply a beginning.  I photograph what is meaningful to me, yet often my images are just the beginning--a base from which to tell my visual stories. If I can share those delightful visuals in a way that is compelling to others, then I have been successful.”