SMITH ANDERSEN NORTH presents
Wayne Levin February 20 - April 9, 2016
Closing Reception with Wayne Levin
Saturday, April 2nd, 6-9pm
Smith Andersen North is pleased to present Wayne Levin. This is the gallery's first solo exhibition with the celebrated photographer whose otherworldly black-and-white photographs made beneath the surface of the waves have captivated viewers for decades.
When I descend beneath the surface, I feel like I am Alice passing through the looking glass
into a totally different world. Or am I Cocteau's Orpheus passing through the mirror into the
underworld? When I descend beneath the surface I am in a world with different rules,
Thus Levin describes his experience photographing off the coast of his adopted home of Hawai'i. The world he finds is both astonishingly graceful, a place where figures emerge soundlessly out of the murk, and strangely disorienting, subject to violent wave activity that appears like storm clouds above his shadowy divers. These coastal areas are also liminal zones where human and sea life collide and everything is equalized in the shared experience of weightlessness.
While celebrating the vast power of the Pacific, Levin's images also point to the fragility of a supremely sophisticated and interconnected ecosystem in which humans are increasingly important players. The latest additions to this expansive body of work are images of coral reef bleaching due to warming waters off the Big Island--a haunting and omnipresent counterpoint to the grace and energy of his dolphins, divers and geometric schools of Akule.
Wayne Levin has been photographing the land and oceans since the early 1970s. A resident of Hawai'I since 1968, he received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. His books and monographs include Kalaupapa: A Portrait (1989), documenting the Leprosy Settlement on the island of Moloka'il; Through a Liquid Mirror (1998), and Other Oceans (2001), Akule (2010), Ili Na Ho'omanaa'o o Kalaupapa (2012), and Flowing 2014. Levin's photographs were also included in Kaho'olawe: Na Leo o Kanaloa (1996) and have appeared in such publications as Aperture, American Photographer, Camera Arts, and LensWork. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the arts (1984); the Ohio Arts Council (1989); and the Hawai'I State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (2006). Widely exhibited, his photographs are in major public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Photographic Art, San Diego; The Maritime Museum, Newport News, Virginia, The Dimbola Museum, UK, The Datz Museum of Art, South Korea, The Honolulu Museum of Art; and the Hawai'i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
Top image: Wayne Levin, Akule Pinwheel, 2000
Bottom image: Wayne Levin, Coral, 2015
Los Angeles Times article on Coral Bleaching, featuring images by Wayne Levin