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Mike McLaughlin, The Silence After – Sandy Relief Benefit

MCKAY IMAGING STUDIO & GALLERY March 2013 Special Exhibit McKay Imaging announces “The Silence After”, Photographs of Sandy’s New Landscape by: Mike McLaughlin Opening Reception: Friday, March 1st, 2013 7 – 10PM The show will run from March 1st thru March 14th. Gallery hours are Wed. and Thu., 1PM–7PM, or by appointment This is a “cash and carry” show – All the proceeds will go directly to “Waves for Water” (see details on the bottom) Artist’s Statement The Silence After Photographs of Sandyʼs New Landscape by Mike McLaughlin Emerging from the darkness after Superstorm Sandy, hearing about and seeing all that had been done, I needed to find a way to do something about what had happened here, to say something about what had happened. I needed to find my way to tell the story. This is my home. I grew up here. I played here as a child and I play here as an adult. I grew up at the Bayshore, went to school on Sandy Hook, spent my teen years in Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, prom and many weekends at Seaside, I have worked in all of Monmouth and Ocean counties, lived in Ocean Grove, and spend most of my free and work time in Asbury. This is my home. I have always noticed that following tragedy, whether it be war, famine, natural disaster or terrorist attack, eventually the publicʼs taste for viewing the images of these tragedies fall off relatively quickly due to their tolerance for the graphic nature of the images, and in turn the collective consciousness of the event itself falls off. In part my goal with this body of work was to create art as well as to document. To try to create something beautiful amidst the sorrow. My goal was to document it, with respect given to the subject and respect to those affected by it, while maybe taking some of the hopelessness out it and instead instilling hope. To make something that people might want to look at a bit longer. These photographs were all made at night or the very wee hours of the morning through a process called light painting. They are long exposures, to expose for the sky and stars, with the subjects lit with a combination of ambient light, moonlight and/or artificial light (my flashlight). Even the ones that look like they were taken at sunset were taken in the middle of the night. I have spent a good part of the past three months, out all night in some of the most heavily devastated areas of the Jersey Shore and Bayshore towns. There is a silence that surrounds me, it gives me pause and drives me on. We need to keep seeing this and not forget that there is still much to be done. When I was starting out as a documentary photographer and photojournalist, there was a saying that I used to always keep in mind while working: Can a photograph save a childʼs life? Can a photograph end a war? Can a photograph change the world? Hope that it can. Pray that it can. I am still hoping and I am still praying.

Gallery Statement “I make art because I have to!” This is one of our favorite quotes from the late, great local artist John Kochansky. This obsession with creating dynamic imagery is one of the qualities that we look for in an artist when deciding what work to show in the McKay Imaging gallery space and this made choosing the recent work of photographer Mike McLaughlin a bit of a no-brainer. When he walked into the studio with this expansive portfolio of images so beautifully depicting the devastation created by our most recent natural disaster, we were both awestruck and hypnotized; both saddened and inspired to show the work. We have always loved Mike’s work. He is one of the best documentary photographers out there with quite a few very large, socially important and often poignant bodies of work. That said, we may just like Mike’s “Light Paintings” most of all. These photographs are achieved mostly at night or in a darkened room by employing a combination of time exposures and objects being “painted in” with flashlights and other forms of artificial illumination. The result is a hauntingly beautiful distortion of reality that depicts how light is seen by Mike’s camera over time. With this body of work, the only thing that is perhaps more impressive than the large collection of very powerful images itself is the obsessive dedication to his art that was necessary for Mike to achieve this very large collection of photographs. Super-storm Sandy, in one way or another, made an indelible mark on the consciousness of us all here at the Jersey Shore and beyond; but for Mike McLaughlin this storm presented itself as a sort of call to arms. So, as soon as it was possible, Mike took camera and tripod in hand and hit the beaches. Braving frigid winter nighttime environments, night after night, after sometimes full days of work, he felt compelled to capture as much of what was left of his beloved Jersey Shore before it disappeared forever, as much of it is surely fated to do. The work goes on still and will go on long after this show is over. Mike McLaughlin is in a race against time! Photography is such a powerful tool. Over time, photographs have changed the course of history by altering the way that people and governments see their world and react to news of both triumph and tragedy. Here in New Jersey and elsewhere as well, Super-storm Sandy created a tragedy of epic proportions. For most, the worst is now over and this storm is already slipping into the back of their minds. It’s often easier to forget. But for thousands and thousands of our neighbors, the great challenges presented by Sandy go on and on in their daily lives. We’ve all heard the stories although we sometimes prefer not to. But it is important to remember these times so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past and so that those who were most affected can still be helped. This is in part the task of the documentary photographer; to help us to remember. To this end, Mike McLaughlin is doing all that he can… Where this exhibit is concerned, it is our collective hope that this work will somehow make a difference for the better. On March 1st, 2013 and for 2 weeks afterwards, Mike McLaughlin and McKay Imaging will be showing as much of this work as our walls can hold, to you our friends and neighbors. It will be a cash-and-carry pin-up show with prints, large and small for sale at affordable prices. All profits from this exhibit will go to a storm relief charity chosen by the artist because the money will go straight to those in need. A representative from this organization, Waves for Water will be present at the opening reception to answer your questions and accept your contributions. Even if you can’t contribute, you owe it to yourself to come and see this stunning body of work… Robert & Elisabeth McKay ]]>
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