Thomas Mezzanotte has been exploring the potentials of the photographic medium for over thirty years. He was educated at the University of Bridgeport where he became the director of the Carlson Gallery in the late eighties. He teaches in schools across Connecticut as a Connecticut Commission on the Arts Master Teaching Artist. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the country. Last year he had one-person shows at New York University, New York, NY, and The Silvermine Guild Gallery, New Canaan, CT, and was included in shows at The Santa Fe College of Art, Santa Fe, NM; Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR; and The George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. Mr. Mezzanotte has won numerous grants and awards including two Connecticut Commission on the Arts individual artist grants. His work was featured in the book The Art of Enhanced Photography by Rockport Press.
"Gained over years spent in the studio, I came to Weir Farm expecting to apply my way of working to the New England landscape. I grew up not far from Weir Farm in Trumbull, Connecticut. In the 1950's, that landscape was essentially this landscape. New England stone walled woods, small farms and apple orchards were my playgrounds as a child. By the mid-1960's these playgrounds had become "the suburbs," as Trumbull gave up its rural character to cookie cutter capes, ranches and split-levels. When I became seriously dedicated to photography as an art form, it was the medium that captured my imagination. My search was through process. This magic of capturing an exact image on light sensitive metallic salts propelled me on an extraordinary journey of discovery. For over twenty years I have worked exclusively in the studio because it was there that I could control the process and let my imagination direct the journey. The results have been wonderful.
And so I took these results, this method of working, and went to Weir Farm expecting to just plug it in. It didn't happen. I found myself frustrated by the lack of control. I was using a twelve-foot camera obscura to do large pinhole images, but the wind shook the camera during the long time exposures. I wanted to develop the images on site to get a feel for how they looked, as I did in the studio, but it was either too hot or too cold to use my chemicals. I wanted the light to come from a different direction, but the sun was stubborn.
The landscape was not to be had on my terms and so eventually, I accepted its terms and went where it demanded. This work, these soft focused pinhole images, are the results of those demands. They are also, strangely, the images of my memories. They look to me like nothing so much as my mind's eye view of a childhood spent here, in these New England woods."
Artist Statement Tom Mezzanotte uses the camera in a unique manner creating images that look painterly rather than photographic. Lately, Tom has been working with Looketha who is the subject of much of his new work. The painted image, together with Tom’s photographic process, creates a vital and lively form. Mezzanotte states, “On its surface the subject of my work has always been the people around me and at times, myself. That is, the formal aspects of these bodies and faces, two things our visual cognitive system is designed to recognize quickly and with a paucity of information. These subjects have interested artists since the Venus of Willendorf was created 24,000 years ago. My interest however goes beyond the subject. It extends to the mechanisms of perception and the delivery systems for visual information. I am an artist, but I see no differentiation between the role of the artist and the role of the scientist.” Tom further states, “These works of art are the residue of the process of discovery. Their aesthetic qualities have as much to do with the joy inherent in that process as with any intention of the maker.”