The Erie Art Museum is currently holding an exhibition of the photographs of William E. Workman in the Ronald E. Holstein Gallery running through Feb. 7.
According to the Erie Art Museum, at age 13, Workman received his first camera, and it was not long before he started shooting pictures for local newspapers.
His friends often referred to him as “The Margaret Burke of Brentwood.”
Not too long after high school, Workman was hired as a photographer by a Fortune 200 company, but he joined the army five years later.
While serving in the armed forces, Workman developed a distinct photographic style. Due to his style Workman’s photographs have been on display at the Smithsonian and the Pentagon. Now they are exhibited at the Erie Art Museum for the public to view.
The Erie Art Museum describes Workman’s photos as “the beauty of the mundane” and “carefully composed scenes of rural and urban decay.”
The beauty of scenes that can be perceived as boring when taken by an average photographer and decay in rural and urban areas are both present in all of the photographs presented at the Erie Art Museum.
A key quality to Workman’s photographs is his use of contrast.
One photograph that exhibits this contrast shows a single giant tree in the center with smaller trees behind it to its left and right.
Behind the tree is white sunlight but above it are dark gray thunder clouds.
Another photograph that really stood out captured the interior of a building that is falling apart.
Inside the building there is rubble and debris scattered all over the floor.
There are many dark shades in the interior of the disintegrating building.
Even though darkness and debris fills the room, an intense bright light shines through the window of the door.
There is a beautiful use of shadows in another photograph that shows a path through a dark forest of leafless trees.
Workman has a great style to his photography, which can sometimes give the viewer chills.
There is always a consistent contrast with at least two aspects in his pictures, be it size or light.
The use of light and shadow in his photographs can steal the eye of a viewer.
The shadow gives a creepy and ominous feel to his photos.
Contrasting the ominous feeling, there is a sense of hope that can be seen in his pictures.
A perfect example of this style is a photo that stood out the most.
Like one of his other photos, this one captures the inside of a rundown building.
Even though clutter covers the floor, a healthy green weed is sprouting out of the ground – which is reminiscent of the plant growing in the junk in “Wall-E.”
Inside the building there are many dark shadows but sunshine can be seen outside the shattered window.
If you enjoy photography, the use of light and shadows, or the beauty of nature, this exhibit is for you.
I highly recommend you check out the Erie Art Museum asset before it closes on Feb. 7.