Juror, Jon Lynn McCallum, MFA Fine Art Photography
Many thanks to the North Valley Art League and all those who submitted images into the NVAL 2017 Regional Juried Photography Show. Being chosen to view and select this work has been an honor. Thank you.
When first seeing the photographs, I was delighted to see a wide spectrum of styles and approaches to image-making. Making no decisions at first, I simply enjoyed the work. Then, with the duty of “judging” at hand, my impulse was not to find reasons for rejecting work, but rather to note which ones made an inner “Wow” or “Yes”—terminology coming from a grandfather of graphic design, Milton Glaser, who stated: “There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and wow! Wow is the one to aim for.” While photography is not necessarily design, the instinctive language of response resounds the same.
There was no clear-cut formula to this process. Sometimes “Wow” or “Yes” was found in the quality of light or in the clarity of form. Maybe it was discovered in the way an image evoked emotion, stirred imagination, or somehow suggested that the image was about “something more” than the image itself. To some degree these determinations are subjective, based more upon my personality, views, and experiences than necessarily anything the artist may or may not have intended. This is the nature of art. But as one who has seen numerous images as an art student, art educator, and ongoing art enthusiast, I never chose work for this exhibition merely because “I liked it.”
For an image to be selected, it had to demonstrate a kind of excellence in visual communication. Camera skill, editing technique, compositional form, lighting, decisive moment, concept, uniqueness… these attributes in and of themselves can be fascinating, but what is most interesting for me is when some mix of these elements merge together and generate a metaphorical resonance between the subject, content, appearance, and even materiality of a work. This quality can vary greatly from image to image and is impossible to put into words—visual communication speaks non-verbally. But when it speaks well, it does summon that inner voice of affirmation. I hope that you, too, can hear the “Wow” and “Yes” singing through these photographs.
Jon Lynn McCallum is a Northern California artist, having studied art at College of the Redwoods, Humboldt State University, and California State University, Chico, where he achieved an MFA degree in Fine Art Photography. Among several awards received as a student was the Hopper MFA Award for demonstrating “growth, accomplishment, and risk-taking” as well as “leadership and contribution to the campus and community.” While exhibiting mostly in Northern California, some of his works have gone as far as Virginia, where the renowned alternative photographer Christopher James selected some of his images, and even China for an International Photography Festival.
Since his education, McCallum has been teaching art courses at Shasta College in Redding, CA, including graphic design and art history, keeping his observational and feedback skills sharpened through regular classroom critiques. While much of his work has been based in photography, he loves creating with all kinds of media: visual work made by hand or digitally, playing guitar, and writing. Experiencing difficulty with speaking as a child, McCallum has long delighted how the arts communicate in other ways besides mere talk.