The latest show to open at the Albany Center Gallery is both intimate and intense, bringing together a selection of photographs by Mark McCarty from his series “Cara Mia.”
Tight shots focused on limbs, a face, a back, sometimes underwater and sometimes seemingly recently dried greet the viewer. The subject’s face is mostly hidden, though there are glimpses of the back of the head or the side with the other half nestled into a pillow. The softest parts of the body are presented in sharp detail, making the exhibit feel tender rather than intrusive.
The effect is amplified by a glance at McCarty’s statement: “As part of ACG’s 'Then & Now' series, I looked back to my first ACG show in 1979, I was surprised that the work from it I was most proud of were truncated views of my late wife in a bubble bath. Her legs, knees, and braided hair, all looked like monumental landscapes, like the legs of Ozymandias rising in the desert.”'
McCarty, a Cropseyville artist, exhibited at the Gallery almost 40 years ago. Since then, he’s exhibited around the world and works as a freelance photographer both in the Capital Region and across the country.
With the “Then & Now” show he revisits his “Cara Mia,” series, in which his wife MaryKate is featured. When viewing the show in the context of the creator, it explores the idea of mortality.
It also calls up ideas about boundaries.
Her skin (as does most) acts as a boundary between her and the outside world. It’s a subject that has fascinated McCarty since his first “Cara Mia” series: “Even more, they’re about my exploration of that thin, vulnerable, and mortal skin between all of us and the world. It whispers to us of our beauty and our flaws, our strength and our fragility.”
Going through the exhibit, the viewer starts to feel as though they know MaryKate. Though in reality, of course, they know very little about her. They know only her freckled skin, the way that her hair clings to her back when it’s wet, and the way her shoulder looks underwater. It’s similar to how we can “know” people through Instagram and other platforms without really knowing them.
That play on boundaries is only reinforced by the fact that some of the photographs were taken with various iPhone cameras. While some photographers treat the iPhone’s camera with a certain level of disdain, McCarty embraces it and even marks the photos with exactly which version of the iPhone he used.
Using an iPhone, rather than a Nikon or some other camera, points to the spontaneity of the photos as well as to the intimacy, especially as the iPhone has come to symbolize a piece of technology that many seem to be glued to for much of the day.
Take the time to wander through “Then & Now,” which is up at the Albany Center Gallery (488 Broadway Suite 107, Albany) through Oct. 13. For a chance to meet McCarthy and learn more about the exhibition, head to the Gallery at 6 p.m. on Thu., Sep. 27. He’ll be giving an artist talk on his process, his goals, and his inspiration. For more information visit albanycentergallery.org.
Saturday is a good day to head to a local museum or two. With the Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day, participating museums are waving entry fees. That includes the Albany Institute of History and Art, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Indian Iroquois Museum, miSci and Empire State Aerosciences Museum, among others. To attend, visit smithsonianmag.com and enter an email to get a ticket, which you can present to the museum you wish to attend. For more information visit smithsonianmag.com.