Collected Works – Volume I: Thirty Years of Photography 1987-2017

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In Deanna Miesch: Collected Works, there are two hundred thirty photographs. All are taken with film cameras over a span of thirty years: 1987-2017. Ideally, a review would consider each photograph on its own merits. The photos are arranged roughly in chronological order and contain both black and white and color shots.

The artist uses an old typewriter to label a lot of the photos, and that old font adds to the historicity of the shots, visually confirming that the prints are on film–they’re not digital or retouched. The black-and-white shots are in strong side light and shadow or front-on. The New Orleans picture “St Charles” is defined by shadows cast by objects seen and unseen. The same strong sidelight is used on “Rape Isn’t Beautiful” to create a sense of anguish and dread. The “Making Gumbo” series tells a story through at least eight individuals as clear as the smell wafting from the pot. The use of black and white spares the viewer the distraction of chicken dissection, focusing on the coordinated preparation, the kinship of the participants, and the anticipation of the final product. The excellent “Between the Windows of the World,” in sharp contrast, is the kind of scene fantasy writers dream about.

Miesch uses a color film that has a strong palette in the reds, greens, and yellows. Her nature shots—most of the latter part of the book—are brighter than usual photographs. The most controversial part of the book is the use of double exposures. Sometimes they work exceedingly well; sometimes they look a little cluttered. The picture “Lisa Says” is a haunting face superimposed on a cactus. “El Salvador,” taken in the Netherlands shows flowers and an airplane tail, symbolizing the export of flowers worldwide. The photo “Pfeiffer Double Sun” is so well done it looks like another planet where two suns are in the sky.

Miesch has a great eye for visual composition. Each of the works tells a story; the single photos are crafted to keep your eye continually moving from one element to another, picking up detail with each pass. The superimposed images beg the viewer to find the integration between the two photos. Thus, they become the starting point rather than the ending point for the viewer’s thoughts. That is the theme of her photos; they are to provoke and engender thought not to just look pretty. In that, she succeeds very well. There are some photos that invoke laughter, some that are poignant, and some that are just a celebration of Earth’s beauty. Especially toward the end, there is a joy in what she is doing that comes through her work. That fact, the excellent storytelling of her photos, and the diverse subject matter of the photos make this an enjoyable book to own.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher DNA Publishing/self published
Publish Date 2019-03-03
ISBN 9781732177307 Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category Architecture & Photography


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