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RSVP to Art in the Atrium with Ken Kohl and Ian Sterling

Written by Cary Burkett | Jun 26, 2017 11:56 AM
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Creative Symbiosis

When two individuals share a common blend of passion and temperament, they can spark each other to creative leaps of development that otherwise might never have been achieved.  

Photographers Ian Sterling and Ken Kohl studied at the same art school, Antonelli Institute near Philadelphia. Sterling is from York, while Kohl grew up in Bensalem. They weren't close friends in school, but they respected each other's work. Sterling says he felt an undercurrent of competitiveness in the relationship. Kohl says that Sterling's work inspired him to make his own work better.

Sometime after leaving school, Sterling had planned a trip to Nova Scotia, a place he felt offered good opportunities for photos. But a few months before the trip, he and Kohl found themselves spending more time together.

"All of a sudden it clicked with us that we worked well together," says Sterling, "and we could hang out basically endlessly without getting annoyed at each other."

The two photographers made the expedition together. Each pursued his own work, but found himself influenced and creatively sparked by the other.

"Being able to have someone who inspires, but also challenges you is a nice option," says Kohl. "It can really shape your images and make you a better photographer."

Sterling's work is marked by an attention to lines, patterns and structure, while Kohl is drawn to interesting textures and perspective.

For both, much of the process of fine art photography might be termed "trained instinct". They have both studied the craft, but find their best shots often come from an inner impulse which draws them to a scene or image before they fully understand why.

An exhibition of photos from the Nova Scotia trip is on display during regular business hours at the Public Media Center through August 31.

None of the photos are produced through digital technology or enhancement. Both Sterling and Kohl love working with real film, and feel it produces photos with a character that digital photography can't achieve. The prints were all developed by hand in a traditional darkroom.

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"Crystal Cove" by Ken Kohl

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