Transformations: Photography by William Giles

May 13 – August 28, 2021

“The beauty of photography is that those few and rare moments of becoming one with the object seen, can later be shared with others, and like stars in the sky, give meaning to one’s life.” -William Giles

William Giles (American, b. 1934) is best known for his beautiful gelatin silver prints of nature and landscapes in which we feel a spiritual presence. His art is literally one of seeing and making visible the energy and life inherent in all things. The two series on view here, Tar Landscapes and Manipulated Polaroids, are examples of how the artist contemplated new surroundings and reinterpreted them. The images in both projects deal with transformation, whether it be the physical transformation of the Polaroid or the visual transformation caused by abstraction and the use of the photographer’s frame. Giles studied with Minor White in Rochester, New York, and this mentor had a profound influence on his photography, his spirituality, and his teaching methods. In the artist’s words, “Minor was like a beacon of radiant light to me in the late 1950s. He gave me the courage to keep throwing out my nets into the dark waters of my own unknowing to discover the first flickers of light, before it became form.” White taught him that sight was proportional to insight, that a camera should act as a conscious tool for what the photographer wants to say. Light became Giles’ muse and his desire to visualize his ideas, feelings, and spirituality became paramount and inextricably linked to his image-making. As an artist, he not only focused on the importance of seeing, but also on the viewer’s experience when looking at the photograph and the photograph’s ability to transform. He wishes for us all to really see and hopefully to be awakened.


-Ann Jastrab, Executive Director, Center for Photographic Art

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Many people were instrumental in making this exhibition possible. Special thanks to Norma Brambilla, John Carney, Stuart Chase, Chuck Davis, Rory Earnshaw, Patrick Ireland, Greg Mettler, Jim Needham, Kenneth Parker, Robin V. Robinson, Ryuijie, Sarah Spencer, and MMA staff Corey Madden, John Rexine, and Noah Gonzalez.


Image: William Giles (b. 1934). Two Men at a Bar (from the Manipulated Polaroids, NY, series), 1984, Duratrans color transparency, 30 x 30 inches. Courtesy of William Giles and William Giles Photography.