October 4th 2011–Chris Saah, visiting Professor of Photography, gives artist talk at Library, 321.
Chris Saah is a Saint Mary’s College Alumnus. While attending Saint Mary’s he majored in philosophy and minored language and literature. Saah said teaching Photography is “a perfect fit for me, I can’t say how much my students have influenced me in discussions their work and my work.” Of his time at Saint Mary’s Professor Saah said, “[I] knew I wanted to do it after his second or third photography class.”
In the past, Professor Saah has endeavored to imbue his photos with “a cinematic quality and place.” Professor Saah presented students with slides of his first major series, titled Nightscenes, and a second untitled series that will be shown at Grimaldis Gallery and discussed his influences and technique, in depth. Saah writes “Andrei Tarkovsky and Michelangelo Anontioni, alone, have had a tremendous influence. Films like Stalker and The Sacrifice, in the case of Tarkovsky, and films like Red Desert and the Passenger in the case of Antonioni.”
Professor Saah was also influenced by the works of David Lync, Blue Velvet and Lost Highway. According to Saah, “each [film] preoccupied with a shifting between the conscious and sub- or unconscious mind, and between sleeping and waking states; each poses the questions with a unique and stylistic brilliance, using the frame as a device to project the internal states of their characters out into the world which they inhabit.”
In first major show, titled Nightscenes, Professor Saah shot series of images, evocative of still life images with singular hues; Saah remarked, “all the colors were a matter of washing out and mining the picture” mounted matte image of his work on“3/4 inch Plexiglas with gorilla glue” in a dark gallery and illuminated the space immediately in front of the images using tinted bulbs.
Professor Saah’s Grimaldi exhibition will contain “5 “Untitled” images on my site, and an additional 5 which I am in the process of editing. Each … [image] is a sort of tribute to an influence, and borrows something from that influence . . . sometimes an idea, though generally an atmosphere or mood.” Many of these tribute pieces represent Professor Saah’s efforts at “creating spaces” or cobbling together disparate images to create a greater image. In one of the pieces he showed students Professor Saah said, “The building is from a different state” than the remainder of the composition. Although the disparate images of Professor Saah’s work fit together, seamlessly, to create new spaces.
Before teaching at St. Mary’s Professor Saah taught photography at MICA, George Washington University, Corcoran College of Art and Design and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
When students asked about his technique Professor Saah said, “I Purposely [don’t] shoot or look through the camera.” In a reverb quite like Caleen Jennings and Natalie Goldberg’s advice to aspiring writers, Professor Saah advised aspiring photographers to “shoot . . . and see how your work comes together.”