Narrative I | January 14 – February 29 2016 | Opening January 28 6pm-9pm
Wes Peel’s photography is a hybrid of digital and traditional methods. His passion for the medium started at the University of Guelph where he took several photography courses. After graduating with a B.A. in 1994, he studied art education at the University of Oxford and received his teaching diploma in 1995. While teaching high school art, he began to develop his own photographic style, working vigorously in school darkrooms to hone his shooting and printing skills in black and white and infrared film.
While creating photography courses for high school students, he rediscovered the joy, simplicity, and unique aesthetic of 19C methods such as the pinhole camera and cyanotype. Wes also explored digital approaches to photography while teaching students how to create a high school yearbook, turning his eye to candid shots of people and events. In 2011 – 2014, he took his digital camera into the local gym and onto the ice, capturing intimate candid shots of amateur and professional hockey players at summer training camps. Presently, Wes is teaching Visual Art at Henry Street High School in Whitby.
I tend to photograph things in a series and look for patterns. Moving beyond photographic artifice and the mere surface quality of a single object, I want to tell a story by assembling many parts together. With anthropological purpose, I uncover larger, universal truths about people and culture. This latest series of cyanotypes entitled “Old School” uses found images from 1950s National Geographic Magazines. My cut-and- paste collages explore ironic and contradictory ideas about 1950s culture, playing with stereotypes such as the cold war and military machine, leisure time and travel, exploration and expedition, and modern-day consumerism. Contrary to popular belief, the cyanotype process is capable of producing beautiful and technically satisfying images. To bring this series to life, I created my own light exposure unit with a maximum print size of 2 feet X 3 feet, larger than most indoor exposure units. I want to push the technical boundaries of the cyanotype process by creating large scale, consistently exposed prints with an extended value range and sharp detail.