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(A Way of Seeing)
John Paul Caponigro

August 24 - October 16, 2005
Museum Open House and Meet the Artist: September 7, 5:30-7:00pm
Student Seminar: September 8, 11:00am-1:00pm (Photo Dept, Bldg 530, Rm 118)

John Paul Caponigro

“Photography is a medium, a language, through which I might come to experience directly, live more closely with, the interaction between myself and nature...The process of photography ever invites me. I hope never to lose this feeling. At times I make photographs for the sheer magic of its process, and the good feeling about the very stuff needed: light, chemical combinations, some imperceptible forces at work behind the scene. I am part of the drama which takes the guise of photography.
–John Paul Caponigro


The images in this exhibition are drawn from “Reflections”, Caponigro’s first major solo museum exhibition. John Paul Caponigro is recognized as a pioneer and master practitioner of digital photography and printing.

Artist Statement

In all of my work, there is an obsession with looking at, through, and into surfaces. A fortuneteller might divine meaning from the world by reading tea leaves, bones, runes, or entrails scattered across a surface. Reading the face of nature is an overwhelming process. It fills one with wonder. There is a highly psychological element to this work. Rorschach patterns lend themselves to interpretation; they encourage a rich upwelling of association. Yet every interpretation--the very act of memory and the foundations of identity that underlie knowledge--relies on association. And images, in many ways--like texts--rely on an interpretive process.

Whether this process of being taken by surprise is a matter of visitation by another power or of the work having reached a point of sufficient depth to lift the veils that screen a pure welling up of the subconscious, is less important than the simple statement that the work generated resonates with power. These images hold power. I don’t know the full import of their message but they have meaning, meaning which becomes clearer with the passage of time and continued participation with them. Yet at the root of their breath, their life, is a mysterious force that defies definition. Any spirit ultimately resists the limitations of a definition and can offer lasting value only through an experience of its totality.

This work is not a simple document of my encounters with the varied spirit of nature, it is collaboration with it — an alliance. None of these images were fully conceived in the field. While I am very much responding to the power of nature when I am in it, these images evolve after I have responded to it with a camera. I did not have these visions in the field, though some elements could be visualized there, and they are not recordings of waking reveries, though some are derived from images in dreams. The process of assembling these images is almost like dreaming while one is awake.

The Elemental Series is conceived as a set of interlocking ongoing series based on six elements drawn from the natural world — Dreaming in Stone, Waterways, Aerial Boundaries, Fire Within, Songs From Wood and Animalia. Thematically the Elemental Series focuses on nature and how man relates to it. The work is less about how we use and live in the natural world and more about how we look at it. In looking we make assessments, then statements, and later judgments. We define ourselves in relation to how we define other things, specifically the natural world.

We want answers but while some are forthcoming very often they shift over time as we come in contact with information we were previously unaware of. Faced with this, one draws the conclusion that the struggle of inquiry is just as important as the answers it yields, for it is the asking and the ways in which we ask that define us. Engaging this activity we enter a dynamic dialog that has been carried on through millennia, spawning many traditions. These images are the residue of my inquiries.
  John Paul Caponigro
Refraction I

As I am, it is natural that my work is concerned with the environment. Though I feel it is inevitable that my work will have political and social dimensions, this is not the primary impetus for it. My intentions are poetic rather than political. My goal is to make images that resonate with meaning and ask questions. It is my hope, that in addition to expressing a state of being and a conjunction of ideas, that my work invokes a new line of inquiry for the viewer. For me art does not stop at the surface of an art object but continues into our lives with the reverberations it leaves within us to be coupled with each of our own unique internal contributions to the course of that energy.
” –John Paul Caponigro


Born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico John Paul Caponigro attended both Yale University and University of California at Santa Cruz graduating with a BA in Art and Literature in 1988. In 1989 he moved to coastal Maine where he lives with his son.

John Paul Caponigro is recognized as a pioneer and master practitioner of digital photography and printing. He combines his background in painting with traditional and alternative photographic processes using the digital platform. He has exhibited around the world and his images are held in many private and public collections including Princeton University, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Estée Lauder collection. He teaches at the Santa Fe, Ansel Adams, Maine and Toscana Photographic Workshops and the Rocky Mountain School of Photography as well lecturing at universities, museums, and conferences including MIT, Penn State, Peabody Essex Museum, Photo Plus East, and Thunderlizard.

He is a widely published writer and a contributing editor for View Camera and Camera Arts magazines and a featured columnist for Photo Techniques Magazine. Reviews have appeared in numerous periodicals including Camera Arts, Art News, and Photographers Forum and his images have been reproduced in The Ansel Adams Guide and Rizzoli's Oceans, as well as in numerous museum and exhibition catalogs. His book Adobe Photoshop Master Class: John Paul Caponigro is a standard in the field. He is one of Canon USA's Explorers of Light and Epson’s Stylus Pros. His clients include Canon, Epson, Imacon, Kodak, Adobe, Epson, Greytag-MacBeth and Apple...Click here for artist's website.

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John Caponigro John Caponigro
John Caponigro
Small Green Island Haboob Reflection I
Installation Images
John Paul Caponigro Exhibition - Installation Image John Paul Caponigro Exhibition - Installation Image
John Paul Caponigro Exhibition - Installation Image

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Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

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