Exhibit’s images push boundaries of expression

The exhibit “State of Mind: A California Invitational” opens at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) in Balboa Park on Feb. 6, offering a sum view of what photography is capable of in the 21st century.

The exhibit celebrates an exhilarating range of photographic practices by 21 California photographers selected by MoPA director Deborah Klochko and curator Carol McCusker from a pool of work by 98 nominated photo professionals. Each of the photographers chosen demonstrates a unique vision executed through a mastery of their craft.

In preparing for the exhibit, MoPA staff sent 40 curators, writers, gallery owners, publishers and academics an invitation to nominate up to four California photographers who were producing innovative work.

From this list, Klochko and McCusker juried the exhibition, selecting the winners, including Mona Kuhn, Todd Hido, Michael Light, Susan Rankaitis, Ken Gonzales-Day and Uta Barth. Most of the photographers have been practicing for more than 10 years and have made their mark as full-time artists and teachers.

While regional by way of where they live and work, the images presented (created between 2005 and the present) are a visceral and engaging look at what is happening in photography today. Subjects range from expressing inner moods through abstract, sensual descriptions of the physical world; scientific inquiry into the mechanics of light on the retina; historical documents interpreted anew; to unexpected contemporary views of California’s beautiful and troubled topography.

As broad as the range of subjects presented is the range of processes used — wet-collodion (a 19th century practice), 3-D work and collage, film and digital-based imagery — to combinations of each. And while their processes differ, all of the artists engage in the essence of photography — time and light — to describe memory, to reinvestigate history, to examine ideas of beauty and personal identity, and to show concern for the landscape.

As photographic technology continues to evolve, these photographers capture images in fresh ways, challenging the medium to elevate a heightened sense of awareness of our visual world, and capturing emotion, sensation and memory that combines traditional techniques with the excitement of digital possibilities.

— Aki Martin, MoPA

‘State of Mind: A California Invitational’

  • Where: Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado, San Diego
  • When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, Feb. 6 to June 6
  • Admission: $4-$6 adults; free second Tuesdays
  • Contact: (619) 238-7559,