Is going back to your artistic roots a sign of confidence, or a lack of it? Terri Weifenbach’s solo exhibit at D.C.’s Leica store poses this thorny question.
In the Leica exhibit, Weifenbach showcases works that echo her circa-2001 technique of photographing natural scenes in bright, spring-like colors and—-most notably—-her creative use of focus. The exhibit offers a half-dozen images from her 2005-2006 series, “Between Maple and Chestnut,” as well as three times as many images from her previous early works. The Leica store show is the first exhibition of works in this series; it was previously published only as a limited-edition book.
I loved her early images when they first appeared and was half-disappointed when, in the intervening years, Weifenbach turned to more muted, green-and-beige-dominated photographs of woodsy settings in fall and winter.
Then, a year ago, Weifenbach changed course again, producing a memorable piece of video art in which she focused on a puddle, gently shifting the plane of focus in and out. But after that welcome burst of creativity, Weifenbach is now spotlighting her original approach of photographing scenes in all their colorful, serenely out-of-focus glory.
The flatness of fences and building facades provide less material for her focus-shifting style to work with (top), but Weifenbach’s purely natural scenes are impressive—-a tree with a circular crown of reddish leaves (bottom), for instance, and a luxuriant vortex of foliage focusing on a blue lawn chair in the distance (second from bottom).
The exhibit makes me ambivalent: Seeing Weifenbach’s newest exhibit brings back pleasant memories, but with a tinge of wistfulness about more innovative paths she hasn’t taken, at least not yet.
Due to a reporting error, the original version of this blog post misidentified the years of Weifenbach’s series “Between Maple and Chestnut.”
The show is on view daily at the Leica store, 977 F St. NW.