Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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De Colores

De Colores


Egyptian Feline

Last Greens of Fall

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” Claude Monet was a fine artist, actually a good bit better than fine and he could barely come to grips with unbridled possibility of color. It’s overwhelming, so much so that we tend to dismiss it. Photography is a terrific way to capture some of the inquisitiveness which makes us human. There are a few instances in which photography can show us little more than what we can view, but often photography reveals to us how little our eyes permit us to see.  Normally we don’t see things as they are; the familiar is forced into the background of our focus. The couch we are sitting on is no longer a collection of darks and lights, patterns and textures; it is simply a couch.  Even though we live in a world full of color, we often don’t appreciate how powerful colors are. We blend it into our minds and don’t notice the beauty of its affect. This project focuses solely on colors, not in one specific area, but in our environment.

This project made me ask myself: what color would define New York? If its sobriquet holds any weight the big apple should be red. Yet that doesn’t seem to do the city any justice. So I went to the place by which the rest of the world defines New York City: Times Square. I took a series of photos, and when I got home I realized that no single color could define this city. It is made up of the dark gray concrete, the peach-white-black-brown-olive skin, the canary yellow taxis, and the dim green waters of the Hudson and east rivers. It is made of an immense palette created by wistful men and women.

This past weekend I went to a cranberry farm in New Jersey and now I know a sea of cranberries makes for a gorgeous picture. It is at once light and heavy, similar to red, which is at once radiant and dire. The top of a cranberry ocean is a papery red-the red of Valentine’s Day, while just below the surface is ox blood and heartbreak. This photo is an exercise in the texture of red, the depth of the trees, and the lightness of the cranberries, made it a beautiful summary.

Graffiti is usually an exercise in futility. It is often of dimwitted design and message. I found an exception not 6 blocks from my house. I was walking toward the bus stop when a vagrant I passed said, “Enjoy your life miss.” I muttered “thanks” and as I looked at him I noticed this piece behind him. When I returned with my camera later that day, the man was nowhere to be found. But the colorful wall painting remained. The airy blues and yellows allowed for the message to shine through.

Gray is my favorite color. It is the only color that can attribute itself to a majority of events, where the world of vibrancy lays no claim. Feelings are usually gray. When I saw the cat outside my window climbing a roof, I thought the whole image felt lonely and curious. It was a reflection of sorts.

Some writers seem to write with magma, nature paints with it.  I was fiddling with my camera’s color accents at my kitchen table when suddenly I saw only reds and oranges. This cup which held both my tea and my reflection was colored a rich orange. The cup became irrelevant, and only the contents mattered. The other glasses became envious, and there was a revolution in the dishwasher.

Pink balloons regularly bring comfort. In the absence of other color they look isolated. The way talent is often isolated. This poses the question if any color or uniqueness is real when there is no comparison.

White and green are simply natural. A pure color scheme that is downright angelic. My mother brought these flowers home to add some ethereal beauty, the way mothers do. Only it looked so pure that it was deathly. It reminded me of pale faces and cold bodies on Sunday mornings.

I suppose this project made me more observant. I walk by the same church every day, and I just noticed the golden fountain fastened to the side of the building. It depicted a swan and a child dancing. The statue was a combination of liberty and freedom; it felt inherently American. And in no other color is American freedom more perfectly displayed than gold.

Winter is rearing its blustery head once again, and the trees go last and they go quietly. When a tree dies, its bark becomes faded and the leaves get blown away. But every so often there is a warm spell in the middle of October and the tree makes a final stand and leaves sprout right from the trunk and this time I got a snapshot. This green is a rebellion against the seasons and a hopeful stand for life.

When dealing with the colors of New York, one must take into account flags. We have over twenty ethnic parades, each of which has its own flag with its own myriad of colors. So at Washington, D.C., I took a picture of all the flags that hung there. The predominant color is red; the universal color of independence and sovereignty.

It is only fitting that at a park where children play under sprinklers would be the perfect place to find rainbows. The rainbow is an object of lore for kids and adults alike. It is the possibility of unending color, and perhaps a pot of gold. The rainbow here lies on the ground underneath jets of water. The picture is almost too perfect, children will step on this red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet floor, and they’ll be happy.

I found a man and his mother who both wore fairly interesting shirts. Both mother and son wore Barack Obama shirts. Color became a paradox on November 4th, 2008. It is now both irrelevant and progressive.


1 Rolanda { 12.15.08 at 8:59 pm }

I really like your street photography project. Many of the images were really impressive and your theme fit perfectly. I think that it was impressive that you managed to come across some of these images. Great job!

2 Keyana { 12.15.08 at 11:43 pm }

Vicky, the image of the cat is quite impressive, and I like how you made a simple topic like colors so interesting.

3 Yuriy Minchuk { 12.16.08 at 6:34 am }

Vicky, I think this project has allowed us all to discover that you are a photographer at heart. The images look amazing and very professional. Maybe you should consider a career in this? Great job