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Nan Melville's Photography Exhibit - Dance Unframed

by Robert Abrams
February 12, 2011
JMC Custom Framing and Art Gallery
674 Ninth Avenue, 2nd floor
(between 46th and 47th Streets)
New York, NY 10036
(212) 977-8877
Nan Melville has a beautiful photography exhibit on display through the end of February 2011 at the JMC Custom Framing and Art Gallery.

There are many iconic images of dance that show not just the beauty of dance, but also the shine of the extra beauty that a high quality print brings.

What impressed me most, though, was Ms. Melville's work that takes photography to a second level of artistry. Ms. Melville has been experimenting with a number of photographic post-processing techniques, one of which is called Polaroid emulsion transfer. In this process, she takes an image and exposes it onto Polaroid film. Then, after soaking it in very hot water, she carefully lifts the emulsion from its usual backing, and applies it to a new substrate. Finally, when the derivative image is set, she scans and prints it onto canvas.

One image I particularly liked is of the dancer Bijayini Satpathy of Nrityagram Dance Ensemble. This 40 by 28 inch canvas print captures Ms. Satpathy mostly in silhouetted profile, arms raised to the heavens. A muted red glow shines through the negative space created between her poised legs. The emulsion of the Polaroid film, crinkled and fragmented, billows around her as if buoyed aloft by her movements. That this part of the image is the result of the prepared accident of the artistic process does not diminish the beauty of it in the least, and perhaps, for those of us who are technically minded, it adds to the beauty: knowing that two streams of art with separate origins have converged to create a unity of action.

That is just one image. There were plenty of others worth pondering. If an image or two so strikes your fancy that you get carried away and buy a signed print, your wall will thank you.

For more information, go to www.nanmelville.com.
Bijayini Satpathy of Nrityagram Dance Ensemble This image was taken at Nrityagram in India. The Indian sun is shining through her costume. This image was created using Polaroid emulsion transfer.

Bijayini Satpathy of Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
This image was taken at Nrityagram in India. The Indian sun is shining through her costume.
This image was created using Polaroid emulsion transfer.

Photo © & courtesy of Nan Melville

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