Carol Harrison is a collector of sorts. Her collection of portrait images focuses on people in the arts: artists, curators, museum directors, some of them longtime friends, some of them people she has sought out because of chance associations.
The resulting pictures project a sense of intimacy, perhaps because of the close proximity in which model and photographer find themselves.
Perhaps it is this closeness that causes many of the pictures to be charged with intensity. An interpersonal dialogue, perhaps even a confrontation, is established. In the face of such scrutiny, as a person stares resolutely into the lens,
an image of determination and individuality emerges.
“PORTRAIT: Faces of the 80’s,” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
Office of Publications, 1987.
After my friend, Rockne Krebs, passed away, I wanted to give prints of all of my photographs of him to his dear daughter, Heather, including photos of the two of them. The portraits of Heather and Rockne reveal the very private interior of Rockne Krebs. I had spent one year asking him to arrange a time to photograph his daughter and him to capture them together.
It then occurred to me to assemble the portraits in a small book, to view the progression of images over the years, and to include photographs that I had taken of several of Rockne's unique installations.
As the book "grew," I researched Rockne's work and learned a lot about his extensive laser and prism
sculptures. I remembered Rockne talking animatedly with concerns about a piece in the central business area of Bethesda, Maryland, titled "Crystal Willow,"
and went to find it.
In retrospect, Rockne always seemed to be wired about his work.
"Crystal Willow" is a large dome-like structure with intricate patterns of crystals. (Please see a photo of it above on the right.) I discovered it in the unfortunate setting of a large red brick office and restaurant complex and close to the street. It was a challenge to photograph it against that background with the stream of traffic. I needed to work on problem solving to create images which did not document the work, but interpreted it.
I went back at night, and continued returning at different seasons to find unusual angles and juxtapositions, freeing the work from its location and creating a panoply of color.
Heather suggested visiting the Children's Inn at The National Institute of Health, where Rockne had installed "Day Star," which included an array of prisms artfully arranged across a huge picture window, with a mobile, and a painted back drop on a grand scale. The prisms captured the sunlight and projected beams of colors across the entire area. It was truly magical to walk through the array of changing colors and lights.
As I worked on the book about Rockne, including personal rememberances, and powerful reviews, I added my images and details of "Crystal Willow" and "Day Star" as bold color punctuations.
The Rockne Krebs' book expanded into becoming a visual art in itself.
It depicts a virtual collage of the extraordinarly inventive artist, Rockne Krebs.
I do think these are just about the most extraordinary and best photographs of a sculpture that I've ever seen. It seems like a living work, the way it is actually experienced, not like some clinical rendering, which is what most photographs of sculptures look like.
This is such a marvelous piece! And your photographs of it make it look like a wonderous multi-faceted, multi-colored jewel.
You were out there Wednesday photographing it in the rain?
William F. Stapp
Former Curator of Photography
The National Portrait Gallery