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Photographs by Nancy J. Parisi at Nichols School

Next Wish

Next Wish is an exhibit new artwork by Nancy J. Parisi, a full-time photographer who was a founding staff member of Artvoice and is currently a regular contributor to Buffalo Spree. The exhibit is composed of color and black-and-white digital prints, which are closeups of her subjects—primarily of hands and sculptural props such as fruit, candy, leaves, plants, wire, and rope. Her formal training from University at Buffalo and Parsons School of Design is evident from these strongly conceptual and well-lit photographs. Coming from a background in journalism, Parisi prefers to present her images relatively unaltered: She explains that she lights each photograph specifically so that the images are only slightly manipulated when processed digitally. Though she works with digital photography, Parisi stresses the importance of studying film photography, which can help a student “understand the light spectrum and the craft of photography.”

Parisi chooses to display her photographs framed but without glass. She describes this presentation as “more immediate than a formal presentation…more like a painting.” She draws from her creative writing experience when giving her photographs descriptive and poetic titles such as Dual Candy Bindi, Honey Dripper, and Triple Wish. The props and the hands seem to collaborate, forming sculpture-like images. In Wrist Wish the hand appears to be languidly reaching into space as a wishbone rests effortlessly on the wrist. The two items seem to be in agreement about their composition, as neither seems constricted by the other. The arrangement of Strung Petals is similar, playful even as the twine has been haphazardly wrapped around three fingers. In this image and some others Parisi dissects flowers to explore the “sensuous and viscous” aspects of flowers.

Parisi seeks out models with androgynous hands. The hands’ positioning straddles the line between bold and delicate, creating a genderless balance. The hands could belong to anyone—they could be you, they could be someone you love, and they could even be someone you hate. This focus brings attention to the basic intimacy of humanity. Each of these conscious choices on Parisi’s part adds up to create a sense of invitation. The sharp focus on the hands and props gradually turns into a soft blur of arms, which beckons the viewer’s eye to gaze deeper into the space of the photograph. This invites the viewer’s imagination to wander as the eyes travel across the handscapes, each hand becoming an intimate landscape. Overall, Parisi’s photographs reflect her own background to the viewer as well as reflect the viewer’s own thoughts back to themselves, which is no easy feat.

Next Wish will be on view at the Nichols School Gallery at the Glenn and Awdry Flickinger Performing Arts Center (1250 Amherst Street) through April 25. The opening reception is on March 25, 5:30-7:30pm.

jill greenberg

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