The nature of photography is to preserve—to seize passing images with a shutter click.
For her first solo photography exhibition, recent School of Photography BFA graduate Aimee Youm focused on this concept. She based her show on capturing everyday moments that are “fleeting.” And she took that word for the title of her exhibition at the university’s 625 Sutter Gallery in April.
Fresh Academy Grad, Fresh Real-World Opportunities
Many of her subjects seem mundane and feel taken from day-to-day life. In her photo “fade,” lacy ocean waves recede from wet sand on a beach. In “fragile,” gossamer spider webs cling to a cactus. In “vanish,” a thin mesh of cloud evaporates before a building.
Soft blues and pinks—her chosen colors, she says—are a strong presence. The fleeting subjects and dreamlike hues were present in all 11 photographs in the show.
“This paradoxical idea, in which the fleeting moment could be eternity, was interesting to me,” Youm stated in her artist statement for the exhibition. She hopes the series will inspire viewers to slow down and notice the little things around them.
Youm shot mostly around San Francisco during winter and summer breaks. After returning to class at Academy of Art University, she examined her photos, and the theme emerged.
“I focus on very small things, very precious things,” Youm says. She is drawn to capturing airy, natural light. As her artist statement noted, her method is contemplative. She often sits and observes, noticing subtle changes as light shifts or things settle.
She shot on a Minolta X-700 camera with Kodak Portra 160 film. In the gallery, she chose to display larger prints without frames.
‘Refreshingly Lovely’ for a First Solo
625 Sutter Gallery Manager Kevin Goring called the show’s storybook quality “refreshingly lovely.” Between photographs were poetic sentences stamped on the wall. They included, “A fleeting moment can become an eternity,” and “From a past encounter everything may disappear in the air.”
The words linked the images and coupled with Youm’s vision, Goring says. “I was most impressed by the elements of story associated with the pictures. Ninety-five percent of the shows I hang are traditionally hung—straight lines or grids, evenly spaced. With Aimee, we broke those rules…to emphasize her images and the text.
“There’s beauty everywhere, in the large and the small. I rarely find an artist who works in, around or with these ‘fleeting moments,’ with no pretense about how important [they are].”
These are quiet moments, capturing an intimate mood. But at the exhibition opening Fleeting prompted big reactions.
Said Kevin Ho, a local photographer, “I am just somebody who really loves things that are gentle and very soft and colorful.” Ho gestured at the photo titled “fluid,” in which Youm shows a swimming pool’s sparkling surface. A thin veil of pink-hued light washes over the left-hand part of the image. “I’m very into the dreamy, ethereal, soft, gentle look, and her pictures take me to another place.”
Irene Chon, a former classmate of Youm, said the photos showed Youm’s style. “There are a lot of simple moments captured in a very romantic, feminine way. It makes you feel like you’re right there, seeing what she’s seeing.”
Academy Instructors’ Critiques as Guidance
Youm says her time at the Academy helped expand her eye. “Critiques are the most important thing,” she notes, meaning her instructors’ guidance.
As an example of how a critique helped her, she turns to a photo titled “reflection.” It’s an exterior view of a window covered by sheer curtains. Trees reflected in the window fall across the image. “Color is the first thing I see when I take photos, so I saw color,” she explains, pointing at the blue sky and white curtain.
Original article by Cristina Schreil published in Academy Art U News