Meet the Artist: Fern L. Nesson

The work of Fern L. Nesson is connected by a single philosophy. Simply put, Nesson strives to capture the essence of life in her photography, embodying the moment when mass becomes energy. The breathtaking results can be seen in Beacon Gallery’s Perception Abstraction, a show featuring Nesson’s work alongside that of fellow photographer Steven Edson. She also has an Artsy online exclusive entitled Windows, available for viewing through July 16th.

Fern L. Nesson Untitled 5

Nesson’s distinctive style emerged gradually. Driven towards photography by the memory of her father, she took to shooting at night, finding a reflection of her grief in the darkness. However, in Nesson’s words, “the dark of night became a space filled with energy, illumination, complexity, life and liveliness, even warmth.”

Fern L. Nesson, Untitled 6

By capturing the points of light that transcended the night sky, Nesson was able to grasp our own human transcendence, and spread the understanding that our life, energy, and consciousness can persist even after we’re gone.

The fusion of art and philosophy is not a novel practice. In the creation of her work, Nesson often engages with the great thinkers and creatives she admires, bridging her consciousness with theirs. Baudelaire, the French poet, inspires Nesson to strive to represent “the immensity within us all” and make use of thoughtful imagery in her work. Her favorite painter, Paul Cézanne, pushes Nesson to connect her practice to the “real world” and express the vivacity in the everyday.

Though strikingly kinetic and often enigmatic, none of Nesson’s images are digitally manipulated. The photographs are always taken in the real-world environment and remain unconstructed. The graceful abstraction and smooth contours of works like Untitled 6 and Untitled 12 distinctly contrast the bright chaos seen in Untitled 14 and Untitled 5. However, they all radiate a persistent feeling of tranquility that defines much of Nesson’s oeuvre.

Installation shot, with Nesson’s Untitled 14 and 15 at center

Nesson’s work has been exhibited in shows across America and was included in the VOIES off festival at Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France. She is currently a post-graduate fellow at Maine Media College, where she earned her M.F.A. in photography, and is working on a wide variety of projects that also engage with her background as a lawyer and an American historian. To keep up with Nesson’s work, you can find more on her website at fernlnesson.com.

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