Photo show focuses on women

Saturday, December 1, 2001

SIKESTON, Mo. -- The idea for the photo exhibit GIFTS: In Celebration of Women, which opens here Sunday, goes back to 1993 when Susan Tesseneer-Street assembled an exhibit featuring some of her favorite portraits of men.

"There are certain photographs that really touch my heartstrings," Street explained.

Street enjoyed the freedom of her wide-ranging photos of men, and wanted to do a similar exhibit featuring women.

"I started out trying to get women from all different professions," Street said. The project included women from ages of four days old and older, depicting different stages of progression through life.

While many of the portraits of career women were completed specifically for the GIFTS show during the past three years, others are simply favorites from Street's earlier work that fit the theme.

"Some of them are from 1990 when I first started out," Street said.

Her mentor, Jay Stock, thought the idea would not only make a great exhibit, but a perfect theme for a book.

Stock referred Street to a friend with Paragon Books in Nova Scotia, Canada, who turned the photographs into a book including nearly 50 portraits. Street said it should be available for the public sometime this month.

The exhibit and book share some of the same portraits, but not all portraits in the exhibit can be found in the book, and not all those in the book will be shown at the exhibit.

Sikeston residents who come to see the exhibit will likely recognize the faces they see, as most of the portraits feature Sikeston residents rendered in the photography-painting hybrid style preferred by Street.

By combining soft-focus photography techniques with dry and wet photographic dyes steamed into the print and oil paints to deepen shadows and brighten highlights, Street achieves a more three-dimensional feel as well as what she describes as "sort of an Impressionist look" reminiscent of Claude Monet's paintings.

"The camera sees in two dimensions and we see in three dimensions," she explained.

In addition to what she learned from Stock about portraiture and composition, Street said she has studied with top photographers and oil portrait artists over the years to refine her technique.

While the book allows the images to speak for themselves, the Depot exhibit will include snippets of information about each of the pieces.

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