The Buzz

Urban Rural Landscapes // Stephanie Wexler // Visitors Center Gallery


"This series presents landscapes in both conventional and unconventional settings—the natural environment  versus nature interacting with the manmade environment—and challenges the mainstream perception of beauty."


MBG: In your words this show challenges mainstream perceptions of beauty in photography, but certainly not contemporary photography. I think this is perhaps because the mainstream is not aware of the state of contemporary photography? Can you tell us about your desire to connect the mainstream with contemporary, anthropological photography work vs stylized commercial photography?

Stephanie Wexler: Given the pervasiveness of such modern tools as photoshop, which enables its users not only to make minor camera corrections but also to manipulate subjects into a hyper-realistic state, there’s a movement towards art photography that feels natural and true. Most of the images in this show have character marks that have not been corrected. The images were not always taken on the brightest days, but instead on cloudy or rainy days; the subject matters are not the most refined; and most of the structures show wear and tear. But those flaws show the truth in what I see on my commute to work or in my weekend getaways to areas throughout the southern region—and represent the landscape I perceive. And what I find intriguing is the way nature interacts with the subjects to create a certain mood.

MBG: This idea of elevating the mundane, or framing beautiful compositions in what might not be ordinarily thought of as a beautiful place was made official (according to museum curators) by William Eggelston. Can you tell us about your connection with Eggelston and how his work has influenced yours?

Stephanie Wexler: In the mid-nineties I met Winston Eggleston, William's younger son, and began studying his father's work after attending some of his shows with Winston. I developed an admiration for the beautiful simplicity of William's photographs and the fact that he was creating work he liked, with no intention of creating for the masses. Much of his work was composed of simple recipes, such as sunlight interacting with an everyday object to create a beautiful shadow, or the more mundane elements seen on a roadside in the country on a not necessarily beautiful day. But the most compelling element of his work is the mood, which makes his photographs more striking than beautiful. This is an aspect that I strive to emulate. Nature interacting with the manufactured environment can be just as beautiful as the natural landscape of rural, undeveloped countryside.

MBG: Lastly, your day job as Interior Designer with archimania allows you to really think about architecture. Did you start out making photographs of beautiful architecture and then move into this current work which fuses beautiful architecture with the grit of the city and the disrupted rural landscape?

Stephanie Wexler: To some degree my work at archimania has helped reinforce my work as a photographer in challenging the mainstream perception of beauty. Much like my photographs, our projects incorporate straightforward designs with a limited palette of off-the-shelf materials, with the intent of presenting a visually striking, yet approachable space. Our work feels appropriate in representing our gritty city, and I'd like to think my photography does too.


Stephanie has lived in memphis her entire life and has worked as an interior designer with an architectural firm for twelve years.  A few years ago she reached a point in life where she developed a need for a fresh perspective and began to reexamine her surroundings.  When she started taking photographs as a child she was dubbed by an uncle as the family documentarian—always with her kodak instamatic in tow—and as an adult continued to photograph her life as it happened.  Travel to art museums around the country and the study of both accomplished and up-and-coming photographers cultivated her interest in photography as an art medium, and she began to apply that medium as a tool for discovering unconventional beauty in commonplace settings.    Stephanie graduated from the University of Memphis with a bachelor of fine arts degree concentrating in interior design. her work has been exhibited at Crosstown Arts and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and has been published in Rundown Magazine, Southern Glossary, and "20x8 : 20 years of christ community by 8 photographers".  and on Instagram

All images courtesy of the artist and copyright protected. All Rights Reserved.

All art exhibits free and open to the public. A portion of art sales benefits Memphis Botanic Garden’s art, education and horticulture programs. Call 636-4100 for information. 

Posted by Stephanie Cosby at 6:00 AM


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