“Photographs of the American Vernacular”, Recent Work by D. B. Stovall at Camerawork Gallery

D. B. Stovall, a Washington, DC area native, bought his first camera at age 10 – a Rosko purchased for 88 cents at Murphy’s Five and Dime.  Quickly moving on to various Instamatics, an old Leica D, and finally Japanese 35mm SLRs, Stovall explored various aspects of black and white photography, becoming adept at all kinds of darkroom work by the time he entered high school.  Stovall was introduced to the view camera at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the early 1970s and eventually moved on to large format color transparency in a realism-based vision, which he still practices today.Since there were few good methods of getting high quality archival prints from transparencies during this time, Stovall did not pursue exhibition opportunities and eventually stopped making images entirely for a fairly long period.  He returned to the view camera in the mid 2000s and was able to make prints closely matching the produced transparencies using modern computer and digital printer technology.  Stovall started entering juried exhibitions at the beginning of 2008 and since then has been in almost 100 juried group and solo shows.  The jurors that have selected his work are curators and art professionals from institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum, Corcoran Museum of Art, NY Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco MOMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many other prestigious venues.   Stovall continues to make images and pursue exhibition opportunities.

Stoval says about his work, “Although I call my work “American Vernacular,” it is important that it be understood what it is and what it isn’t. Although some have termed it “old buildings,” that is selling it far too short. I do tend to look for older buildings, but that is more due to the fact that older structures, like whiskey or cognac aging in a barrel, acquire a certain color and flavor after many years. This is enhanced by the various hands that have put their own touches onto the structure, kind of like an artist on a canvas over a long period.

I try to capture that sense, as well as highlight the kind of things that others tend to overlook. The view camera is a perfect tool for this work. It enforces a kind of discipline on my vision, what I call a “slower way of seeing” that highlights the kind of sharp detail that would otherwise be lost in the camouflage of the everyday. What it is definitely not is nostalgia or “Americana.” I leave that type of work to those who are better at it than I.”

All photographs were taken with a 4×5 view camera onto color transparency, which were then scanned and TIF files produced. Archival pigment prints are then made matching the original transparency.


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