Jerry Uelsmann prints currently on display

Jesse Hamer

Jesse Hamer

Jerry N. Uelsmann photos may spark the imagination, but that isn’t always beautiful.

The South Dakota Art Museum is showing selected photographs of Uelsmann until March 13.

His prints give off a dream-like surrealism that makes the viewer feel like they are traveling down a mythical path. He takes an image and adds what his imagination sees. There is much emphasis on a singular person standing alone in an unknown exotic region.

While his prints are interesting to look at, they lack the beauty that simplicity brings. There is so much going on in some of his prints that his ideas are lost. The emotion which photography is supposed to inflict on a person is lacking in Uelsmann’s work. His work is trying too hard to represent an idea or a state of mind. Some of his prints would be so beautiful if only he had left them as they originally were.

There is beauty in truth, but truth escapes Uelsmann’s prints. His prints are the kind that would make the most sense when viewed in an altered state of mind. They do not capture the things most photographs do, but instead they capture what is inside one man’s head. Uelsmann has a unique blend of real life, and an imaginary one, but sometimes they is too paradoxical.

Uelsmann, who was born in 1934, received his bachelor of fine arts degree in 1957 from the Institute of Technology. He went on to receive his masters and masters of fine arts from India University in 1960. He taught photography for many years, but recently retired. He has many permanent displays in museums across the globe, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Chicago Art Institute.