After providing a handful of spectacular and sophisticated fine art exhibits in the last few months, the Angela Meleca Gallery presents a collaboration of local and national talents with “The Reveal.” The photography exhibition boasts the works of award-winning and internationally renowned photographer Zaire Kacz depicting BalletMet dancers clad in cutting-edge fashion by contemporary designer Maria Pinto, who’s known for outfitting Oprah Winfrey and Michele Obama. The result is obviously striking.
“It’s cool to see these dresses taken out of the context of fashion and put into something that’s more about movement,” Pinto said. “It brings life into the garments in a different way.”
The project began with Kacz’s “Reborn” fine art portraits featuring David Ward and Emily Gotchall from BalletMet, a collection of minimalist photography portraying the human form at its most arresting and flawless.
“When I saw these dancers, I totally got inspired,” Kacz said during a phone interview from her Asheville, North Carolina studio.
When BalletMet Artist Director Edwaard Liang saw “Reborn’s” final photos, he wanted more. And then went to work putting together Pinto, Kacz and the BalletMet cast.
“When they decided they were going to shoot the dancers, he contacted me about my archives. I designed costumes for ballets that Edwaard had choreographed in Chicago, so he knew my work and asked to use some of my archives,” said Pinto at the Feb. 27 opening reception where Kacz was also present.
Once the project was completed, Liang ran into a problem: nowhere to showcase them. A dinner with Angela Meleca resulted in, “I have a gallery. I’d love to.”
The exhibition features two drastically different portraits of the BalletMet dancers; dressed in gorgeous and vibrant high-fashions and minimalist (similar to Kacz’s “Reborn” collection) clothing that highlights the movement and beauty capable within the human body. The dichotomous nature of “The Reveal” is intentional.
“That is the two phases of my photography; the fashion and … what I did for my fine art series. It’s about the body, the shapes, the lines. My intention for those was to be more about a spiritual or emotional [aspect] with the use of the light,” said Kacz, a well-respected fashion and editorial photographer who’s found inspiration and enthusiasm in fine art photography in the last four years.
“The ones that are the very colorful are, for me, about the dancers on a stage performing. The other ones are more just about the dancers; what they feel when they do their craft.”
“The Reveal” is culmination of Kacz’s two photographical sides, but the collection feels more like that fine art side, given the methods employed. Some photos, the “emotional and spiritual” movement portraits, are printed on metallic paper to highlight those aspects. Some fashion-themed photographs are printed on canvas, while others are printed on high-gloss paper because it makes the colors in Pinto’s designs pop.
The reason Kacz used canvas was because the setting, The Athletic Club of Columbus, felt like a classical oil painting. For the other setting utilizing the arches at McPherson Commons, Kacz wanted to make sure to capture everything.
“When I was shooting [with the arches as a backdrop] Edwaard was giving directions to the dancers about the choreography, and I saw something I really liked. It’s very striking with the monument,” Kacz said.
Pinto also pointed to the photograph at McPherson Commons with a female dancer being hoisted into the sky by two male dancers as one of her favorites.
“When I saw the yellow dress on the back wall, everything about that photo is impeccable —the space, the lighting, the perspective. It’s beautiful and makes the dress come alive. It’s a very special dress and it’s shown really well there,” Pinto said.
As a work of art, “The Reveal” is best described as a collaboration of those who’ve dedicated their lives to honing a craft. And then putting those skills together.
“I really love the process of collaborating with people who are really switched on, really passionate about what they do and what they bring to the table … you bring together really great people like this, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have a beautiful finished piece,” Pinto said.
Or maybe it’s just the pursuit of perfection.
“They’re perfectionists, and I very much like that. They don’t get tired, or what I mean is [they do] but they’re not going to stop until they get the movement in a way they’re comfortable with. That’s the way I work with my photos too,” Kacz said.
Photos by Zaire Kacz