A train-ed eye: Evans tracks a sense of place
In baseball, powerhouse hitters often remark they see the ball coming toward the plate in slow motion. Such sluggers are not only able to put wood on a 98mph pitch, but their trained eyes can also calculate the precise swing needed to send the ball sailing where they want. Photographer Stacey Evans has finessed a similar skill with her camera.
Shooting through windows of moving trains, Evans sees the passing scenery with such clarity that she can trip her shutter at the precise second necessary to create compositions that both evoke a sense of place and comment on humans’ efforts to structure space. Six of her color images, taken over the last three years across the country, are currently on view on the Downtown Transit Station’s lower level in the exhibition, “Train-scapes.”
The conceit that links the images together is that each contains a street or road in silent contrast to the unseen train whizzing by. Five of Evans’ scenes depict rural or small town scenes, with only one photograph capturing an urban landscape.
The most compelling images reveal Evans’ keen sense of geometry and intuitive understanding of color relationships. In “Montana, 4:29pm, Fall, 2007,” a gravel road angles from the lower right up through the frame, practically bisecting the image. Where the road ends, a swath of blue sky continues its direction. A handful of single-story buildings sit amid scrubby fields of tan on either side of the road, silvery corrugated metal farm buildings on the left echoing the grey underside of white clouds that stretch to the horizon.
A lonely telephone pole juts up in the center, adding punctuation, but it’s the four small white crosses lined up on the lower right that make this image memorable. Next to this photograph hangs “Virginia, 2:44pm, Summer 2009,” a contrasting yet similar scene of a fading small town, in which Evans again uses angles, repeating shapes, and color to create a strong composition.
Evans’ images, quiet and lacking drama, evoke nostalgia for places in transition. She observes how people impose order on space, only to have their constructions become obsolete. Her deft camerawork keeps distant details crisp while blurring the foreground as the train moves, underscoring time’s relentless passage.
The one drawback to “Train-scapes,” innovatively presented using rail-like rods suspended on chains, is the distracting glare on the display created by the Transit Station’s window. Otherwise, Evans has hit a homerun.
Stacey Evans' exhibition, "Train-scapes," is on view on the lower level of the Downtown Transit Station through the end of October. 615 E. Water St. 242-7699.