06 October 2011

Charbonneau/French & Jennifer Hudson Show Press Release

(Click on the artists' names to see their work.)

VERVE Gallery of Photography Presents


Opening Reception: Friday, November 4, 2011, 5-7pm
Exhibition is on view through Saturday, December 31, 2011

Conversations with the artists: Saturday, November 5, 2011, 2pm
Location: VERVE Gallery of Photography

VERVE Gallery of Photography is pleased to present an exhibition with three artists, the collaborative team of Jeff Charbonneau and Eliza French (known simply as Charbonneau / French) and artist Jennifer B. Hudson. These artists work narratively, using stories and ideas that play out visually in their staged imagery. Jennifer B. Hudson’s small prints will grace the walls of the smaller and more intimate room in the gallery and Charbonneau/French’s large scale work will be exhibited in the main gallery space.

The public reception for this exhibition takes place on Friday, November 4, 2011 from 5 to 7pm. There will be a conversation with the artists at VERVE Gallery on Saturday, November 5 beginning at 2pm.

The exhibition is on view through Saturday, December 31, 2011.


The collaborative team Jeff Charbonneau and Eliza French (Charbonneau / French) debut their first exhibition at VERVE Gallery with 21 large-scale photographs from both their Massillon and Playground series. Their work has been appropriately described as images with Victorian-era aesthetics and a 19th century craftsmanship. They produce their work by combining traditional black and white darkroom techniques with contemporary photographic processes.

The Massillon series takes its name from the Ohio town where Eliza French’s great-grandmother, Zeta Eliza Woolley, lived at the turn of the 20th century. Massillon reads as an unraveling narrative inspired by the artist’s memories, old family folklore, dreams and childhood reminiscence. These recollections are transformed into works that have been described as “stills, it would seem, [from] an Edgar Allan Poe film adaptation by Ingmar Bergman.” While the work is distinctively inspired by French’s ancestry, the artists say the work, “…is a meditation on memory, and how it functions through the two of us, and between us.”

The series Playground focuses on the study of primary shapes, and their literal and symbolic relationships to human subjects and the natural world. Eliza French notes of the work:

In these highly designed pictures we have strayed away from the emotionally driven narrative that characterized our previous series, Massillon, to create visual poetry through experiments with proportion, distance, and repetition in space.

With the Playground series, Charbonneau and French have ventured into such realms of influence as classic mythology, Buckminster Fuller’s utopian communities, mid-twentieth century architectural sketches, Dava Sobel’s book, Planets, and their own childhood experiences with weather balloons. Each photograph in Playground begins with the artists’ sculptural intervention into a found landscape or surface through the decisive placement of people and objects, including large monochromatic spheres and diminutive and fanciful female figures. The images conclude with performances, postures and arrangements captured on film that are often infused with elements of classical mythology and subtle references to the universe as created and manipulated by gods and goddesses of polytheistic times.

All of the work by Charbonneau and French is rendered via meticulously executed installation, staging and equally exacting post-production work. The artists utilize traditional darkroom techniques and shoot their scenes with film in medium and large format cameras. Jeff Charbonneau explains:

Our images are essentially staged performance/installation stills, as we are very interested in capturing a real moment in time and adhering to the sentiments of traditional film based photography. As such, we prefer manipulating our images in a wet darkroom environment, rather than in the digital domain. In our Massillon series, where clouds are upside-down, or superimposed over a figure, the manipulations were done strictly in the darkroom using multiple negatives. In Playground we only retouched minor areas where the large orbs were tethered to the ground with small weights.”

Charbonneau and French do, however, rely on digital technologies for the enlargement and printing process of their images. In the interest of maintaining consistency throughout their editions, large-scale exhibition prints are created using digital Chromogenic print technology based on their original silver gelatin masters.

Jeff Charbonneau and Eliza French have been working together since 2004, when a mutual interest in the photographic medium brought them together. Their performance-based images are created through a partnership from conception to completion. Charbonneau/French’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in shows and art fairs since 2006, as well as featured in such international publications as Photograph Magazine, American Photo, and Photo +.

Jeff Charbonneau is a masterful printer working in traditional black and white darkroom technique. He attended the University of Wisconsin and UCLA for graduate studies where he studied music, anthropology and photography. He has divided his time between the motion picture and television industry and photography for twenty years. Eliza French studied screenwriting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and earned a degree in Art History from UCLA in 2001. In 2008, she became a full-time artist in collaboration with Charbonneau after working for several years in the entertainment and arts industries.

Both artists live and work in Los Angeles.


Jennifer B. Hudson’s exhibition consists of three bodies of work. All of Jennifer’s images find their inspiration in spirituality, in religious symbolism, the anguish in life’s transitory nature, and empathy in personal relationships. She is a dynamic and emotional illustrator who uses forgotten or discarded mechanical devices in staging her scenes. Hudson’s images are both artistically stylized and meticulously crafted into intimately small-scale prints.

Jennifer’s series Baptism is a personal exploration of a young woman's journey through life’s altering experiences to a spiritual reawakening. We follow the empowered woman’s heartfelt journey from guilt and transgression, temptation and despair, to prayer, commitment, reconciliation, and grace. This work illustrates adversity, agony and triumph; the mysteries of human religiosity. Jennifer’s Flora series, a work in progress, combines human forms to create floral arrangements of the more common spiritual icons.

Medic is a snapshot of physically or spiritually ill humans and their relationships with themselves and others in times of need----- the images are metaphors exploring introspection, empathy and compassion. Jennifer Hudson explains:

The work began wholly on one sentence whispered by my husband while we endured a deeply unsettling time together. He held my hand, lay close to me and said softly, "I just wish I could take the pain from your body, and put it into mine." I have been fortunate to know incredible love all my life, but at that moment I became suddenly and intensely aware of the magnificent power that exists between people who care for one another. When I was anxious and fighting to fall asleep each night, I began to invent miracle machines; contraptions that heal, deliver hope, legacy, remedy, and redemption. Each image from Medic is a thoughtful invention, strange and tender, revealing facets of the delicate human heart…. In the making of this work, I sought to begin to understand some of the most rare and beautiful relationships in the world, to expose their most frail, vulnerable moments, times of great intensity, and most cherished inner workings.

In the ten isolated chamber scenes in the Medic body of work we are invited to witness emotional experiences, exchanges, and confrontations brought on by life’s transitory nature. In some chambers, we are invited to experience life-changing moments for persons with humbling choices. In other chambers, we see exchanges of affection, tenderness, connection, mercy and empathy. However, each chamber metaphorically explores the challenges to both individuals and human relationships during serious illness and their fantasizing for a “miracle machine, a contraption that heals”.

In spite of having been raised in a religious and conservative home in rural Texas, Jennifer Hudson grew up imaginative, curious, introspective and experimental. She uses her formative experiences to bring insight and awareness to her intensely personal artwork. Hudson is currently working in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is an MFA Degree candidate at the University of New Mexico, in the Studio Art Photography Program. In addition to private portraiture commissions, she is an international speaker and lecturer sought out year after year by many professional public and private photographic organizations. Jennifer’s work has been a part of many exhibitions, and is represented by three major galleries across the country.


Email: contact@sevensistersasleep.com
Phone: 310-397-7936

Email: oliveavonlea@yahoo.com
Phone: 617-697-4544

Jennifer Schlesinger, Director
219 E. Marcy Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Email: director@vervegallery.com
Phone: 505-982-5009 Fax: 505-982-9111

Check out our current exhibition or our other artists at our website!

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