Niniane Kelley at San Jose State’s Gallery 8
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

In her BFA thesis exhibition, Niniane Kelley’s gum bichromate prints enchant. This is a one-week show that merits a much longer look, as there are so many tender aesthetic discoveries to be made in her pairings of two delicate images. In each case the female model, mostly nude, is posed and juxtaposed so that body posture, or hands, arms or legs in some subtle way mimic and speak to the second image of a flower or other plant form.

Niniane Kelley uses the back of her own head for this juxtaposition with a palm.

There is nostalgia for a more innocent time in the way Kelley develops and presents her prints. Eschewing crisp contrasts or stark blacks and whites, she looks between the absolutes and extols the mysteries of creation, fertility and renewal within the soft greys of her lamp black pigment. The images never exploit, are always respectful.

Kelley’s nudes are exquisitely beautiful precisely because they are not from the world of airbrushed and silicon-enhanced bodies that inhabit the world of consumer product promotion through objectification of the female form. One model, a friend of the artist, is the anonymous figure that is youthful, full of womanliness and life and who speaks to the simple beauty of unadulterated nature. The masterful inquiry into the essence of the feminine by Imogene Cunningham comes to mind. Kelley also acknowledges the influences of Edward Weston, Massao Yamamoto, and Flor Guardu√±o, along with others of the great photographic traditions. Kelley’s carefully selected examples of plant and seed forms, rendered in myriad values of warm greys, recall the work of Karl Blosfeld.

Pear, Gum Bichromate prints by Niniane Kelley at San Jose State

Niniane Kelley is the Associate Director of Modern Book in Palo Alto, where the world of professional photographers is celebrated through exhibitions and publications. Rather than an immediate move toward graduate school, Kelley plans to continue the rewarding work she is doing at Modern Book.

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