Delicate beauty on a grand scale

Amy Lamb's floral photos are at Steven Scott Gallery

Arts: museums, literature

January 01, 2004|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Amy Lamb's large-scale color photographs of floral subjects, on view in the group show at Steven Scott Gallery in Owings Mills through Feb. 28, are among the loveliest examples of the genre this reviewer has seen in recent years.

Images of flowers almost invariably call to mind their traditional association with the transience of life, and of beauty, too.

Yet Lamb's photographs, meticulously lit and enlarged to monumental scale, also invert that identification with their sense of permanence, of eternal qualities of delicacy and freshness that are continually reinvented with the flowering of each new blossom.

Lamb photographs her images with a medium-format Hasselblad camera on film that captures all the subtle tonal shadings of her subjects.

The film is scanned into a computer as a digital file that can be manipulated with software programs to achieve the ideal color balance.

Then the file is downloaded through a high-quality ink-jet printer to create an enlarged image on archival watercolor paper.

The final prints thus have the photographic clarity of traditional silver-gelatin images and the deep tonal richness of inked engravings.

They are both scientifically precise and poetically imagined, a combination that places Lamb solidly in the tradition of such pioneering botanical innovators as Imogen Cunningham and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Lamb will be the subject of a one-woman show in March, when the gallery will present a selection of her most recent works, the largest measuring up to 28 inches by 42 inches.

That exhibition promises to be one of the highlights of the new season and further evidence, if any were needed, of the arrival of a major new talent on the photographic scene.

The gallery is at 9169 Reisterstown Road. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 410-902-9300.

For more art events, see Page 36.

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