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Cheryl L. Hrudka




"Appearance is 180, reality is 360" - Cheryl Hrudka



It is 8:00 A.M. on a workday.  The place is any city or town.  People are walking to work.  The stream on your left faces you.  Their faces make them recognizable as individuals.  (This starts when your parents lean over your cradle.)  Those walking with you have their backs to you.  They are shapes and forms, human but not quite individual.  This is a world seen and unseen.  In telling the story or the animate turned inanimate, Cheryl Hrudka challenges our comfortable habit of practiced disinterest.


Each of us is reassured by recognition.  Recognition is functional.  We mold our reactions to a  recognized circumstance, object or individual(s).  Our world is thereby ordered.  We feel we know what to do.  It is faces, sometimes places, we recognize foremost.  The photographers that supply us with a recognizable face or place have often been the most successful.  Consider Nadar, Arnold Newman and Annie Liebowitz for faces, and Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins for the same place.  Each provides us with visual comfort food.  Something we feel we know.  There is a problem here.  Recognition and knowledge may, or may not, overlap.  One does not necessarily have anything to do with the other.  Cheryl Hrudka is more than aware of this possibility.  In her photo essay, 270 degrees, we face an alternative reality that removes specific recognition from the equation.  We have not trained ourselves to recognize and react to people, places and objects seen from this angle. The effect is greatest when applied to people.  Now human beings can be turned into form and shape, with occasional connotation of mass.  They are clothed sculptures, exempt from personality.  There is a hint of the existentialism dilemma here.  The distance between the viewer and his,  or her,  fellow man is amplified.  No one is a part of, or belongs to, anything, save the surroundings of a material culture.  Since the mid 1950s, artists and photographers tended to avoid this issue.  The chance of public rejection is far too high.  It remains, nonetheless, relevant.  A material culture is not a spiritual culture. They may never coexist.  These are not reassuring images.  They were not meant to be.  "270 Degrees" is the work of a courageous, though somewhat shy, artist.

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