Laura D’Alessandro’s Pandemic Photo Series “Creatures in Quarantine” Opens Friday at Doubting Thomas Gallery

click to enlarge "Creature 2," by Laura D'Alessandro - Courtesy of the artist.
Courtesy of the artist.
"Creature 2," by Laura D'Alessandro

Cleveland-born fine art photographer, writer and educator Laura D’Alessandro will open a solo exhibition of fine art photography at Doubting Thomas Gallery Friday, August 14th from 6-10 p.m. "Creatures in Quarantine" takes focus on what D'Alessandro calls the "magical and intense moments” in her reality.

“Many of these images confront the confinement and fear of 2020’s masked, anxious daily struggle directly," says artist and writer Douglas Max Utter. "Others refer more obliquely to the broad, ironic predicament of creaturely existence, so often locked-down by the very conditions of freedom.”

This exhibition is in anticipation of a forthcoming ‘chapbook,’ which will include images from the show, which presents a small selection of studies D’Alessandro made during the past six months ‘living with SARS-CoV-2.’ Due to the pandemic and for precautionary reasons, the gallery will only be allowing under 10 people at a time to view the exhibition.

Among her other achievements, D'Alessandro recently founded and is a director of Cleveland Photo Fest, which began in 2019 and was prompted by her seven years volunteering for the New Orleans Photo Alliance and festival of photography (PhotoNOLA) while she lived there. D'Alessandro is also the co-curator of the Prama Artspace & Gallery, in Parma.

D'Alessandro told Scene that she was inspired to create "Creatures in Quarantine," as a way to wrap her head around the world right now.

"Life is so surreal," she said. "Everything has changed so much because of this pandemic—probably forever.”

D’Alessandro’s images feature subjects such as: distorted and mutilated dolls, a bashful child’s bare feet, Bigfoot in PPE and a ghostly female child figure. The grainy frames give the viewer glimpses into the psyche of an artist bereaved by the loss of a world of interconnectivity while acclimating to one of disjointed commiseration.

“I have always chosen to live life lyrically—to observe the details and the moments…the pleasant ones, the anxious ones, and the moments that are a little wild around the edges," she said. "During these past months, I have repeatedly photographed feet, moths, doors, and windows. The foot without a shoe on is said to symbolize a “disembodied soul” and moths are said to be “incarnations of the soul.” Moths also represent transformation and metamorphosis. There indeed has been a death of our former lives in many ways. We are now locked away in our towers, and for many of us, our tribe has been limited to family and perhaps a few close friends, at this time. I have photographed my daughter quite a bit during these months, as well as our life at home”

Acclaimed Cleveland artist and writer Douglas Max Utter has written an essay which will be on view at the opening and part of the forthcoming photographic chapbook. He writes, “D’Alessandro’s photographs record well-thumbed monsters and tattered gods, even a room stacked full of discarded doors, glimpsed through a night window – dimensions of the imagination under threat or remaindered for quick sale, portals to nowhere as contemporary culture shelters in place, locked in a paranoid reality.”

One image (which I am still trying to digest) is a somewhat blurry picture of the mythological ‘Bigfoot’ wearing a bandana around his face with a worn down pickup truck in the background.

Says D’Alessandro about her work, "I have been waking up daily during this pandemic, trying to see the world with fresh eyes—trying to practice mindfulness, and by photographing, I have felt that there are still those moments of hope and magic right in front of us, if we only take the time to notice them...even if it is just the awe derived from the full flower super moon; my daughter playing with bubbles that disappear into the ether; or the looming figure of a Bigfoot statue wearing a surgical mask at the garden center.”

World Photography Day is August 19th, (which happens to also be Alessandro’s birthday), so in addition to Friday’s exhibition, she will be hosting an event from 5-8 p.m. on that day, also at Doubting Thomas Gallery, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this November.

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