Nick Shepard – “A Mechanized Pencil”

October 4th – October 27th, 2019
2nd Saturday Reception: October 12th, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Artist Talk: October 4th, 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Loop
Nick Shepard
Loop
Digital Pigment Print, 30 x 40 Inches, 2019
Lines
Nick Shepard
Lines
Digital Pigment Print, 30 x 40 Inches, 2019

Axis Gallery is pleased to present “A Mechanized Pencil,” an exhibition of photographs in a site-specific installation by Nick Shepard on view from October 4 through October 27, with a Second Saturday reception with the artist on Saturday, October 12, from 6:00–8:00 pm. Shepard will present an artist talk Friday, October 4. This is Shepard’s second solo exhibition at Axis Gallery. Shepard’s work is grounded in a deep understanding of art history and the relationship between photography and other media. He makes frequent use of digital and analog processes to create images that are easily mistaken for paintings, but remain undeniably photographic.

The title of the show, “A Mechanized Pencil,”  is an allusion to William Henry Fox Talbot’s “The Pencil of Nature”, created from 1844–1846 and one of the earliest works of photography. In “Pencil,” Talbot used harsh light to illuminate collections of dishes, open doorways, and other ordinary subjects. Talbot, in an effort to educate his audience, noted that, “The plates of the present work are impressed by the agency of Light alone, without any aid whatever from the artist’s pencil.”

Photography has changed greatly since Talbot’s “Pencil,” both in technique and meaning. In Talbot’s time, a book of two dozen photographs represented a major technological achievement and viewers were enraptured by the magic of the brand new medium. Today we scroll casually through dozens of pictures before we get out of bed in the morning, our attention ping-ponging from topic to topic.

In “A Mechanized Pencil,” Shepard presents new large-scale still life color photographs in a site-specific installation. Shepard uses his keen eye to create understated pictures that transform studio installations of basic building materials into abstract compositions. This collection of pictures builds on the subject matter and visual language from Shepard’s previous exhibition with the gallery, “Revision 1.”

For “A Mechanized Pencil,” Shepard has constructed a temporary wall that subdivides the gallery. The partition, which is itself a part of the work, both limits and expands visitors’ experiences of the photographs. A number of the subjects are presented on either side of the wall. Viewers must rely on their memories to recall similarities and identify differences between images they cannot view simultaneously. In other instances, two or three pictures appear in the same sightline, promoting relationships between the images.

Nick Shepard grew up in New York City, graduated with a degree in Studio Art and Art History from Carleton College, and earned his MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in his hometown. His work has been included in the 2016 Oregon Biennial: The Studio Visits in Portland, OR, Photography Now 2015 at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. He has also appeared at the Wassaic Project, the Center for Fine Art Photography, and Fraction Magazine. His work was recently selected for “Slice” at Pence Gallery in Davis, by juror Julia Couzens. Shepard is based in Sacramento, where he is an active member at Axis Gallery and an Assistant Professor of Photography at Sacramento State. / nickshepard.com

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