High school artist reveals ‘Women in the Workplace’
Photography is art to the extent that the photographer’s personality is revealed in the image.
The photographer reaches a higher stage of art when she creates several photographs and gets them to communicate an idea that’s larger than the sum of each individual frame.
Cymone Van Marter makes art on both levels with “Women in the Workplace,” a series of 12 photographs showing at Confluence Gallery, opening Saturday (Aug. 24) and continuing through Sept. 28. Van Marter’s show is one of four Confluence is exhibiting at the same time to conclude the summer season (see box).
IF YOU GO
Confluence Gallery will host four concurrent shows, including Cymone Van Marter’s photography, through Sept. 28. An opening reception for all four shows will be held on Saturday (Aug. 24), from 5–7 p.m. In the main gallery, “Methow Contemporary” will feature four well-known valley artists, including print works from Robin Doggett, ceramics from Don Ashford, 2-D and 3-D work from Vern White, and colorful botanical works from Tonia Gonzalez-Ortega. Pacific Northwest artist ML Harris will show her body of work, “The Gift of Water” in the Community Gallery. “Weatherbound,” a body of work created during Perri Howard’s recent artist residency at Kingsbrae International Residency for the Arts in New Brunswick, Canada, will also open. For more information, visit ConfluenceGallery.com email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Street Dancer” might be the most arresting image in Van Marter’s show. The photograph depicts a ballet dancer doing a left split at dusk on a crosswalk in Twisp. “Street Dancer” shows that the 16-year-old artist, a junior at Liberty Bell High School, already has a strong grasp of light and place.
Van Marter also understands that good photography in the digital era is a numbers game. The 12 pictures on exhibit at Confluence were selected from more than 2,000 she took for a school project, most of them in the summer of 2018.
In addition to “Street Dancer,” the gallery will show Van Marter’s images of a veterinarian, a silversmith, a singer, a hairdresser and others. Van Marter also reveals a baker in her element, which happened to be the Rocking Horse Bakery in Winthrop.
“I am capturing women who are both in their workplace but also in a place they love,” Van Marter said. With each image, she said, she was aiming for “the perfect balance of responsibilities and passions.”
She didn’t go into the project thinking it was going to be only about women. As she lined up her subjects, though, she saw she had 11 women and two men.
“I have more women, so why not just go with women?” Van Marter recalled thinking. “It creates a theme, it’s what I have, and it’s supporting women.”
Making the photographs was an exercise in waiting for people to let their guards down.
“A lot of these women I knew beforehand, but by taking their photographs I learned so much more about their quirks and what they do in front of the camera,” Van Marter said. “Some of them were uncomfortable, but they’re just being themselves. It was easier for them than they thought it would be.”
Connecting with Confluence
Van Marter created all of the photographs in the Methow Valley with her Canon 80D camera. She turned in 20 color images for the school project but converted the 12 she selected for the Confluence show into black and white.
The school assignment required Van Marter to show her work in some way. She said she made a “split-second decision” last September, while walking through downtown Twisp, to turn into Confluence Gallery and ask them if they would show some of her photographs. The gallery asked her to submit an application, and she was eventually accepted.
“Confluence Gallery exists because all artists deserve to be celebrated,” said Rose Weagant, the gallery’s program administrator. “To have an emerging artist like Cymone — raised by the community of makers here in the valley — is a perfect example of the valley’s commitment to nurturing artists.”
Van Marter’s decision to walk into Confluence wasn’t random. Her mother, Nicole Ringgold, was the gallery’s director from 2011 to 2014. An accomplished silversmith, Ringgold has curated shows and been featured in exhibitions at Confluence since her tenure as director. She also was commissioned to contribute pieces to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Van Marter’s father is Derek Van Marter, a business owner who runs Methow House Watch.
Cymone Van Marter follows her mother in her artistic inclinations, but the younger artist is drawn to different media. She was the cinematographer on a team that made a short movie at a film camp in Los Angeles this summer. Before shooting, the team had three days to write a screenplay with no dialogue.
“I loved it,” Van Marter said. “The end result was pretty abstract.”
Her first love as an artist, she said, is theater. Van Marter has been in several Merc Playhouse Christmas productions since moving to the valley with her family when she was 4 years old. Her most-recent stage appearance was in May, as master of ceremonies for Liberty Bell High School’s production of the musical “Chicago.”
Next, Van Marter is entering a Methow Trails short-film competition, and she will be involved in this coming year’s theater productions at Liberty Bell.
Consider this the artist’s own balance of responsibilities and passions.