The Pro­fes­sional Artist Series is pre­senting Douglas Coon’s pho­tog­raphy in a show titled “Air­ports, Deserts, and Hillsdale” at the Sage Center for the Arts Daughtrey Gallery, beginning Oct. 26.

Born in Hillsdale, Mich., Coon attended Western Michigan Uni­versity where he majored in tele­vision, film pro­duction, and history. He’s been a pho­tog­rapher since junior high and has been the college’s pho­tog­rapher for 20 years. Five years ago he started teaching the college pho­tog­raphy classes.

Junior K.C. Ham, who is taking Coon’s class, said she enjoys his instruction.

“He’s fun, very upbeat, likes to get our opinion on things, and is looking forward to us going to the show so we can cri­tique his work,” she said.

Coon said he thinks this show is a good rep­re­sen­tation of his work. He said it will be fun to get his student’s per­spective on the pic­tures. Ham expects he will get only pos­itive feedback.

“He really knows how to frame a shot,” she said. “The dif­ferent tech­niques he talks about actually show up in his work, and a lot of the stuff I’ve seen in class is really eye catching.”

Pro­fessor of Art Samuel Knecht agreed. “Doug Coon’s artistry in photos con­tinues to amaze and delight,” he said.

Knecht said Coon’s work involves broad and sur­prising con­trasts of subject and com­po­sition.

“The current show might seem to some to be the work of not one but several pho­tog­ra­phers,” he said.

“Air­ports, Deserts, and Hillsdale” may not be the most con­ven­tional show, but Coon said he likes the diversity.

“I have a short attention span, so I’m always inter­ested in doing a variety of things,” he said.

Coon said outside of college-related pho­tog­raphy he does not do much studio work. He likes to travel. Land­scapes, both urban and natural, abstract geo­metric shots, and slice of life pic­tures are all glimpses he enjoys cap­turing.

“I love motion,” Coon said. “I’m kind of a nutcase about light.”

The pieces in this show were all shot dig­i­tally. Coon said there are aspects of film pho­tog­raphy he likes, but in general he prefers digital, espe­cially when it comes to color.

“His command of digital pho­tog­raphy is rooted in his film and chem­istry years,” Knecht said. “He is sen­sitive to the lan­guage of pho­tog­raphy and its rev­e­lation of light as a con­se­quence. The light in his photos lends a kind of tran­scendent beauty.”

Prepa­ra­tions for the exhibit began last December. A newer devel­opment in his reper­toire, metal prints, make up a portion of the col­lection. Some are printed on a film or mem­brane that lies on the metal, giving the print a glossy sheen, while others are printed directly on the metal, adding texture and a sterility that fits many of the shots involving air­ports and urban scenes.

Coon says pho­tog­raphy is probably the hardest medium with which to convey a sense of the artist, because it is very mechanical. Ham said that despite the dif­ficult medium, Coon’s pho­tographs manage to maintain a dis­tinct per­son­ality. Knecht agreed.

“He moves beyond options for super­ficial pic­turesqueness into images that are fresh and acces­sible,” he said. “Further, he steers clear of slick Pho­toshop gim­micks that appeal to duller minds. Instead he com­poses his pic­tures with con­summate care for fresh aspects of design, pattern and color.”

Coon said he dis­likes over-intel­lec­tu­al­ization of pho­tog­raphy.

“I don’t think pho­tog­raphy tells a story so much, but reminds people of some­thing,” he said. “If you over­think it, it tends to get sterile and heavy handed.”

The exhibit will be open through Nov. 18 with an Artist’s Reception on Nov. 3.


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From Portland, Oregon. He serves as the paper’s Associate Editor. Meadowcroft is majoring in history and participates in theatre and is on the editorial board of the Tower Light literary publication. Meadowcroft has also worked for the American Spectator. He hopes to write after college on arts and culture, international affairs, travel, theology, and politics. email: | twitter: @micahmuses