Don’t Shoot Me: Fine Art and Photography with Pamela Viola

 Brighten your workplace, brighten your walls, and brighten your day. The high resolution and vibrant photographs of landscapes and iconic DC structures that grace the walls of Sotheby’s International Reality’s Chevy Chase office shot by Pamela Viola do just that.

My first introduction to Pamela was her show at the Hillyer Art Space in September, where she debuted her new take on abstract photography and innovative use of technology in Having a Ball. To prep for my interview I explored her blog where the ‘about me’ touted Viola as “a photographer and fine artist working in the Washington DC area specializing in fine art photography for corporate, hospitality, health care and residential collectors.” To me, there seemed to be something dissonant about this description and her work. It was time to dig underneath the two titles of ‘fine artist’ and ‘photographer’ and reconcile the pair.

Pamela Viola, a classically trained photographer, has seen herself constantly evolving and adapting her style to combine new techniques and technologies. Viola does not desire to compose, point, shoot, and then edit. She sees the photograph as a “starting point” and this is what propels her into the realm of the elusive ‘visual artist’.We see this pseudo rebellion even in Viola’s more classic photographs of iconic buildings. The artist expressed that she has always been passionate about architecture and tends to capture the lines and shapes that may be less recognizable parts of an attraction but are essential to the form as a whole. Viola has also found great success in printing on different substrates, such as aluminum and Japanese Washi paper. Developing images on aluminum has the effect of refreshing old landmarks and exposes the crisp, airy, light filled depth that resides in them.

Moving into the abstract is where Pamela Viola seems to be at her current peak in terms of ingenuity and inspiration. Having a Ball was composited completely on an iPad and developed on Japanese Washi paper with cold wax applied after printing. The resulting images can no longer be called photographs and were a truly fantastic new form of artist expression. My first impression of these images was Hokusai prints and antique wallpapers; an interesting combination that proves Viola’s exceptional layering and love of technology.

While photographers can sometimes see a backlash from peers and critics for embracing digital outlets, no one will stop this artist from manipulating images on her iPhone. Viola has found that you can challenge and improve yourself with new technology and sees her camera as a tool to create with, not capture, a mere paintbrush versus the entire canvas.

I am certainly looking forward to what Pamela Viola will produce in the future and a recent trip to India has already sparked the creative process and made for some beautiful fresh work capturing the movement, chaos, beauty, depth, and warmth of the country.

 Many thanks to Pamela Viola for sitting down with ArtSee, see more from the artist here.

 Bringing the Art in DC to You,

 Mica Hartman