What’s in a name?

Wall #98
Wall #98

When I first started putting artwork into a show setting, I was faced with a dilemma. What should I name this piece? What about that one? I envisioned that I would be spending the rest of my days making images that are very often removed from reality. So I felt pressure to come up with a “way” of deciding on a name for each piece.  To understand what I came up with, you have to understand how I see my images. I do not look at them and see a wall with a faucet. I imagine what it COULD be, not what it is.

For this image, on some days, I see a small forest in the lower right and a smoking mountain on the lower left… Other days I think about the slow process of time and nature changing mankind’s footprints. To name this piece for the imaginings of one day, would make me dissatisfied on the next day. And it might even keep me from seeing the image in a new way. It would become that “one” story encapsulated by the name I chose.

I thought about naming my images with just a number, but somehow that seemed too detached. I finally decided to describe very dispassionately the material or source of the image in one or two words and to then add a random number to the title. So in the case of the image in this post, it is titled Wall #98. This naming convention does give away a part of the game if you look at the title of the image before you look at the actual image itself. It tells you at least at a high level what you are looking at. It really has not been an issue in gallery shows, because the little tag that identifies the name of the piece is usually small enough to escape the viewer’s notice for a few moments while they absorb the image and start telling themselves a story about what it is.

I recently had someone tell me she felt disappointed to see the image names on my online web portfolio images because then she had a context for the shapes, textures, colors and patterns. Not my intention! So I may have to change the online display to make the name very small so I can produce the same experience for my online viewers as they would get in a gallery show.

One of my very favorite parts of showing my photography is hearing from a viewer what they see when they look at an image. Each person brings their own history and personality into how they interpret the photographic image and I get to know them a little better by hearing their story. To me, this viewing experience is like being a kid again, lying in the grass with a couple of friends looking up at the clouds and pointing out the fantastic duck in the sky over here, and Thor’s hammer over there… as we allowed our imaginations to run wild!

The three images in this post will be on exhibit for the whole month of August at Gallery 1855 at the Davis Cemetery district. The show open house is on Sunday, August 11th, from 1pm-4pm. Hope some of you show up to look at the work of seven Yolo County photographers!

Metal #45
Hull #460



Gallery 1855 at the Davis Cemetery District
Anne Miller Photography