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Beth Achenbach
Jersey City, NJ
Photography




Artwork Details
Purpura
2015
Photograph
20” x 30”
HyperLink
 

Beth Achenbach is a Jersey City-based photographer, whose close-up photographs are like in-depth interviews with her subjects, delving into details that tend to be overlooked. The interesting part is how the story changes depending on each individual viewer, but there is always a common thread, and that is what keeps her inspired: the bridge that forms when art unites us. When Beth was 8 she kept a shoebox under her bed that was filled with what many would call junk, like rusty bolts, pine cones, buttons, and colored telephone wire. She would ritualistically pull out the box and lay the items on the floor around her and delight in having such keepsakes. For Beth this was the beginning of her creative process--the appreciation of beauty in all forms.

With her love of observing her surroundings and a keen sense of curiosity, she jumped at the chance to work at a photo shop while living in Chicago as a young adult. There she learned how to use a camera and started to develop an eye for composition. Hearing of this new enthusiasm for photography Achenbach's sister handed down her Pentax ME Super camera to Beth, which allowed her to shoot at her will. Achenbach photographed cityscapes, people, animals, and anything else that caught her eye. In 2002, when she moved to Jersey City, Beth started showing her photographs in group and solo exhibits which helped establish her in the artist community. Never one for being complacent Achenbach pushed herself to continue trying new and different methods of shooting, which elevated her work and her following. In 2010 she came up with the idea for her series titled "Simplicity" while in the garden. Achenbach, struck by the forms of some newly sprouted ferns, brought out her camera and spent an afternoon taking candid photos of found treasures in the backyard. That day she rediscovered the enthusiasm of the 8-year-old girl had returned! Beth continues to share this excitement for the undisguised objects intrinsic in our world through her photography.

Beth writes: "The things that inspire me most are texture, pattern and shape. I love to photograph found objects - both manmade and nature-­-made - because very often it is the finding of these objects that moves me to create a story about them using my camera.

"The idea for my new series 'Thaw' came about one day while I was eating cherries, when I looked down and thought to myself that I should photograph a few of them, because they have the most wonderful shape and color. But I wanted to explore ways that I could take a picture of them that was different, and eventually struck upon the idea of freezing one in water. Easier said than done, I put a cherry in a plastic cup with water and realized quickly that it would just float at the top. Experimenting, I put a small amount of water in with the cherry and then added more layers after each previous layer had frozen. I took it out the next day to photograph in my studio and found that as the ice thawed, the red juices from the cherry ran through the cracks in the ice. I was completely hooked on the image, and knew I wanted to do more! It had all the elements I loved - the texture of the cracks, the color of the cherry, and the patterns in the ice! I discovered too that ice itself became a medium I had little control over, but that it is as interesting as the objects it encases. Excitedly imagining all the objects I could freeze, I realized I had to figure out logistically how to photograph something that was melting and would be dripping water.

The process of working it all out, picking the objects, choosing the shapes of the containers I would freeze them in, and planning the shoots was extremely satisfying from a creative perspective. The lighting and composition of space and proportion took me through a process where I had to be open to letting go of what I hoped the images might look like. The final photographs embody how the thaw presented itself through the lens."


Beth's work is being displayed in this solo exhibit:

THAW Photography Exhibit
September 2015
LITM, 140 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302

Images