Visual Arts: Photography

By Christopher Yasiejko

“I was in my 20s,” she says. “I graduated, I got married – you know, the whole routine. I was much younger, and back then it was, Oh, you have to get married.”

So Elisabeth Bard, now a photographer but then a hopeful artist most interested in screen printing and oil painting, followed that well-worn path.

She graduated. She married. They had little money, and darkrooms were hard to come by, so photography took a back seat.

“Then I had kids,” the Newark resident says. “And basically, I was done for quite some time, although I kept painting.”

Montepulciano, digital photo, 8" x 34"
Montepulciano, digital photo, 8″ x 34″

When her husband earned a doctorate and got a job, she moved with him to Puerto Rico. She found work in graphic design, but when the couple divorced, she returned to the mainland with little to her name.

These days, she hops from one photography exhibition to another, and her work often is among those featured. The craft long since has reestablished its place on the front line of her creative march – while on a trip during the mid-1990s with a friend, Bard pulled out a camera for the first time in 25 years.

“I fell in love all over again,” she says.

Pienza, digital photo, 8" x 34"
Pienza, digital photo, 8″ x 34″

She began taking workshops. She honed her skills. She hadn’t forgotten anything; she just needed practice.

She joined the Wilmington Photographic Society and began submitting her work for shows. But she also noticed a distinction in photographers’ focuses that affected her approach.

“I found out that there’s almost like two worlds with photography,” Bard says. “You have the people who are trying to do the technically accurate things, but there’s no real content in their images. They’re not trying to express themselves.”

At the meetings, she befriended three or four others of like artistic minds. They had what they considered good images. They saw value in them and decided to further their careers together, in part by forming a critique group. It would gather eight to 12 people, a small enough circle to allow for deeper assessments of each photograph.

San Quirico D’orcia, digital photo, 8" x 34"
San Quirico D’orcia, digital photo, 8″ x 34″

The work Bard submitted for her Division fellowship was culled from photographs she made during several recent trips to Italy’s colorful hill towns. Each of her images, which stretch horizontally like panoramas, comprises images of textures, colors and architecture from a particular town. The montage, which warps and blends the original images, for her represents the town’s character.

Bard’s path is not well-worn, but it’s hers, and she seems to be enjoying the sights along the way.