Point Park professor’s work on display at art exhibit


Photo by Cassandra Harris

One of April Friges photos on display in the Silver Eye Center exhibit

Written By Cassandra Harris, News Editor

Since its creation, photography and its mediums have been defined by their square shape, simple surfaces and single dimension. As a professor of photography at Point Park, April Friges grew bored of these definitions. With her new and current collection of work on display at the Silver Eye Center for Photography, Friges pushes the boundaries of the medium with dimension and unique materials as she displays her collection of works titled “In Absolute Space.”

“April Friges reimagines the possibilities of photographic processes, creating objects that assert their physicality as sculpture and collage,” the Silver Eye Center website said, describing Friges’s exhibit. “Friges creates work in the darkroom using photosensitive papers or traditional collodion wet plate techniques, utilizing light and chemistry without the use of a camera. Her work connects with the history of mid-19th-century practices”

Helen Trompeteler is the deputy director of programs at the Silver Eye Center. On opening night she shared her appreciation for both Friges and another artist’s work that is on display in the exhibit. 

“Working with April has truly expanded my imagination about how photography’s past, especially mid 19th century darkroom techniques, can be reinvented for the future using technology,” Trompeteler said. “I really love how this exhibition challenges us to reconsider what a photograph could be, dissolving traditional boundaries.”       

Walking around the exhibit, Tintypes are displayed on the wall. Friges bends the metal of these Tintypes which allows the viewer to gaze not only at the placed image but back at themselves. For this Friges uses magenta, green and other colors. 

“If you Google the word Tintype it’s always on a black metal,” Friges said. ”It’s always a portrait. It’s always Billy the Kid. My thought is, what if we take these ideas of photography, these ideas of the past, instead to continue that narrative and create a new one.”

Friges used Point Park’s color and black and white dark rooms for everything. All of her pieces are developed with the 1900s wet collodion photography process. She learned the techniques while co-teaching with another professor. This is when she began questioning the traditional Tintype methods.

“I asked, why is it always on black metal? And he’s like, because, you get the deepest shadows, the darkest darks,” Friges said, “and it’s like, yeah, but you don’t ever get white. Collodion is like a milky-creamy. So, I was like, could I do it on white?” 

Alongside the Tintypes and other abstract photography, the exhibit displayed shadow boxes filled with collaged color darkroom prints, bending and folding in on themselves.

Friges is very aware of the passage of time in relation to her work aging and fading over the next hundred years, a process that she’ll never be able to witness. 

“It’ll start turning from blue to yellows,” Friges said. “Like all of our faded photographs turn into something else later and it’s going to fade.”

It takes years for an artist’s work to be displayed in an exhibit like this. At first, Friges thought that her photography would be in The Mattress Factory.

Silver Eye is an open-door non profit organization. Leo Hsu is the executive director of the center, their mission at the center is to promote the power of contemporary photography as a fine art medium. He spoke about the types of artists and photographers that they choose to showcase. 

“They’re working with photography and perhaps other media to say something that they really want to say, to express something that is probably very unique to them,” Hsu said. “Particularly these may be people who are earlier in their careers or or mid career and may not have the opportunity necessarily to show work that begins by being personal.”

Jen Collins is a senior photography major at Point Park and she interns at the Silver Eye Center as well as takes photo classes from Friges.

“Having a professor that’s very current and having her work published now, I think it’s really interesting to have somebody that’s different like that,” Collins said. “Because when they’re actually working in the field and doing these different things, it’s really interesting to see.”

Other Point Park students also attended the opening of the exhibit to view Friges’s photography.

“She’s always there for the students,” Collins said. “I think she’s always able to lend a helping hand and she’s always been helpful in presenting me with opportunities and just listening to me and also showing us a bunch of different artists.”

Friges work “In Absolute Space” is on display in the Silver Eye Center until April 22, 2023. The doors are open free to the public and through the Bloomberg Connects app, viewers will be able to listen to explanations of each work when they visit.