Artist Spotlight: Colby Caldwell

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With two shows open in Washington, D.C. and well-received reviews from The Washington Post, Associate Professor of Art Colby Caldwell continues a series of successes in photography, mixing the digital and film-based worlds into a cohesive presentation of art.

Arriving at St. Mary’s for the first time in 2002 on a one-year contract from Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., Caldwell entered the art department an already established photographer.

He has been presenting work since 1988, and within seven years of being hired for a tenure-track professorship at the College has shown works at the Hemphill Gallery in D.C., Paragraph Gallery in Kansas City, and Goodyear Gallery at Dickinson College.

Caldwell was not always on a direct path to the world of art. At Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Caldwell was on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in history, more specifically 20th century European history (and even more specifically, the history of Germany and Russia leading up to World War II). During his senior work, however, he “caught the art bug” when looking at photographs of the time period.

“I got fascinated by documentary war photographs,” said Caldwell in an interview with The Point News. “Pretty soon I was writing and presenting more of the photographs of the time than the history itself, and my adviser suggested a different field of study.”

After taking pictures of his college’s band and enjoying it immensely, he shifted to the world of photography, leaving behind his bachelor’s degree eight credits short of completion.

Caldwell is currently featuring two shows in Washington, D.C., both encompassing the same body of work. “Gun shy”, at the Hemphill Gallery, shows Caldwell’s images of shotgun shells, abandoned duck blinds, bird remains, and feathers, all found on his own Jesuit property in St. Mary’s County.While recently purchased by the State of Maryland, the property has not been changed much since its establishment in the mid-17th century.

“[Gun shy] is more narrative-oriented, telling a story as a body of work,” said Caldwell. “It’s about the state of photography right now, which is a balance between film and digital-based media.”

“Spent”, showing images from the same body of work with a focus on how the shotgun shells have deteriorated over time, is being presented at Civilian Art Projects in Washington, D.C. Both shows represent 10 years of development of the project “small game,” also presented at Hemphill in 2007. A production based on this work, titled gun shy, is 76 pages and includes color photography images, and writings by Frank Goodyear, Ferdinand Protzman, Joe Lucchesi, Jayme McLellan, and Bernard Welt.

Caldwell lives on the farmhouse property with his two dogs, Smalls and Poe.

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