When we open our daily digital feeds, are the lives on display in the photos really as perfect as they seem? What are we missing? Gravy Studio & Gallery’s current exhibition, Another Day in Paradise, explores notions of paradise, idealism, and fantasy and how these compete with themes of commercialism, appropriation, and manipulation. This juried group show features nine photographic artists chosen from nearly 75 applicants across the country.
Gravy’s exhibition space is nestled in a charming and lively part of Northern Liberties surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops. One could easily spend an entire day on this tree-lined block, full of art, tacos, and thrift shopping. Gravy is a small, modern gallery that attracts a diverse following with its fun, fresh, and current taste.
Each artist answering the Another Day in Paradise call responded to a prompt noting that most of the photos we see day-to-day are idealized versions of the subject, “often making the world seem cleaner, more orderly, and more beautiful than it actually is.” The exhibition explores the “profound influence” of our modern digital diet of “beautiful images that offer promises of something better.”
Selected artists Nick Marshall, Kalee Appleton, Josh Lord, Danielle Ezzo, Will Matsuda, Ira Wagner, Martina Sauter, Bree Lamb, and Melissa Eder offer a refreshing departure from the mainstream brand of airbrushing and flawlessness. Walking through this gallery felt like walking down a street with my eyes wide open, zooming in on the small aspects of our world that hold beauty and truth.
Flowers, temples, and the pupusería
Lord photographs flowers found on the side of the street and in front of people’s homes. The images aren’t close-ups of a flowers that isolate their radiance from everything else, but rather integrated shots of several flowers amid cement and brightly colored homes.
These are reminiscent of the photos I find myself taking while traveling—moments that mesmerize me while in a new neighborhood, city, town, or country. I’m not drawn to taking the millionth photo of Angkor Wat while in Cambodia. I’d rather photograph the small wildflower growing in the grass in front of the temple, making the temple a backdrop. You can gather a lot about an unfamiliar place by its flora, whether there are manicured gardens or flowers growing wild. Different flowers have varying levels of strength: some thrive clumped together, coexisting easily and not having to fight to survive in each particular climate. Lord’s images capture a simplicity that I’m always trying to grasp.
Eder’s photos remind me of art found in my favorite Latin American restaurants, all filled with vivid colors and bowls of fruit. The décor in my local pupusería is never trying too hard to create an ambiance becaue the quality of the food speaks for itself. That is the vibe of Eder’s photos—you don’t need to look far for paradise; it can be found in a ripe papaya or view of a clear blue sky.
The exhibition is filled with photos that are a testament to the moments of everyday beauty and art that are easy to miss if your state of mind is negative or clouded. Local architecture, a rainbow slightly hidden by dark clouds, lush greenery that we take for granted.
Where do we want to escape to, and what are we running from? Another Day in Paradise finds value in less-than-idyllic places and trains your brain to feel euphoria through the unfiltered lens of your reality.
In addition to the physical show, Gravy teams with In the In-Between: Journal of New And New Media Photography for an expanded online exhibition including a further 21 artists curated by In-Between editors. The online exhibition opens August 1.
What, When, Where
Another Day in Paradise. Through August 24, 2019, at Gravy Studio & Gallery, 910 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia. (267) 825-7071 or gravy-studio.com.