Patti Ambrogi: The Rebel Forest (2015)


Cepa Gallery Patti Ambrogi The Rebel Forest

Solo Exhibition

January 30–February 28, 2015

At CEPA Gallery

CEPA Gallery was pleased to present a new series of photographs by 2014 CEPA Members’ Exhibition Award winner Patti Ambrogi entitled The Rebel Forest.

This exhibition and publication are funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, and many generous individuals.

The Rebel Forest is a new chapter in the Geographies of Desire, surveying two tracks of land held in preservation: The Bentley Woods in Victor, New York and the Cathcart Island on Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. The Geographies of Desire are a continuing series of photographs documenting observations of the natural world and our presence in these environments. The work maps a progression of walks on land preserved through various forms of land management. These photographs explore our conceptions and idealizations of nature while they reflect the social and political conflicts we face as 196 countries establish a framework to slow the rate of global warming.


Artist’s Bio

Patti Ambrogi has made photographs and worked with young people throughout her career as an Associate Professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Before coming to RIT, Ambrogi studied at the Accademia d’Arte in Florence and the University of Siena in Italy, and the Summer Shakespearean Institute at Oxford University, England, and earned her MFA from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including recent exhibits at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, the Tokyo Polytechnic Institute in Japan, the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, the Center for Book Arts in New York City, The Boston CyberArtsFestival at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, the Menschel Gallery at Syracuse University, and the Memorial Art Gallery and the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.
Ambrogi has lectured about moving media and the still photographer and is the founder of the Media Café at RIT, a curriculum promoting the production of temporal work that crosses the boundaries between disciplines and media. She is the recipient of RIT’s Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Honored Educator Award at the 2012 Regional Society for Photographic Education.

Patti Ambrogi’s photographic work has returned often to environmental imaging, exploring how perception and knowledge and understanding evolve through our continuing observations and interactions with the examined world.


The Geographies of Desire: The Rebel Forest

Our relationship with the land is one of our oldest stories. The Geographies of Desire portrays a contemporary narrative in this continuing story.

The Geographies are an ongoing series of photographs, documenting my observations of the natural world and our presence in these environments. The photographs map a progression of recurring journeys on land preserved through various forms of land management. They explore our conceptions and idealizations of nature while they reflect the social and political conflicts we face as 196 countries establish a framework to slow the rate of global warming.

The Rebel Forest, the newest chapter in The Geographies, surveys two tracts of land over a number of years: The Bentley Woods in Victor, New York and the Cathcart Island in Ontario, Canada.

The Geographies of Desire started in The Bentley Woods, which is less than a mile from where I have lived for 30 years. It began with The View from the Oldest Tree, which is described as a first growth tree. The white pine looks over a Fen, giving the preserve the designation of “a significant natural community.”

The Bentley Woods imagery documents the protected center of the hidden and landlocked preserve; it traces the vegetation and trees along its border as it touches subdivisions, hunting areas, and private land. Janet Everest Bentley purchased the woodland in 1921, and later donated the parcel to The Nature Conservancy as a sanctuary. The pictures began at the heart of the sanctuary and recently moved to the trees along the edge and beyond the boundaries of the preserve, a nature beyond protection, giving rise to The Rebel Forest.

The Cathcart Island is one of the boundary islands on the large freshwater archipelago of The 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay; a place I visit and watch throughout the summers. The series documents the stressed vegetation on the island during the prolonged summer drought of 2012 and then tracks the revival of the woodland during the following summers. The island is held under the international designation of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which recognizes the area as a unique place in the world that promotes both the sustainability of its local economies and the conservation of its ecosystems. The designation suggests a balance between humans and the earth.

The pictures record the subtle irony of an island ecosystem scorched by lack of rain yet surrounded by fresh water during the prolonged drought. They depict the trees through the following summers as they assume rebellious responses to their climate challenges.

Imagery of the natural world often explores a desire to understand our immediate environment. Our earliest story is about desire and a garden, about choice and a tree. It is this same story of desire and choice that threatens us today with expulsion from our world environment.

The Rebel Forest raises a dissident voice that would have you hear its story of an increasingly fragile nature.

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