Perhaps it was the mood I was in, but viewing Carolyn Meltzer’s photographs seemed more like reading a poem than viewing a series of photographs. She takes us on a whipsaw journey through the competing forces in America, her images building their own narrative, punctuated with the literal words captured in her framing, ending on an image of three people painting “We Shall Overcome” on a plywood wall, the top of Atlanta’s skyline just visible above.
Meltzer’s images are simple and unassuming, the weight building through the flow, like ordinary words brought together into something unexpected in a poem, only at the end of which do you recognize the power.
From hope through pain, to hope. She leaves us with a declaration that feels more like a question. “We Shall Overcome.”
I believe that most people who call the US home adhere tightly to the optimistic hope that we are always moving toward a better tomorrow…even if that path is not a smooth one. That vision of a better tomorrow is more inclusive, provides more opportunity for all, and is respectful of our environment and each other.
Over the past 3-1/2 years that optimism has faded for some. While the cusp of 2020 held the promise of a new year – an election year – yet its first 8 months alone have brought unprecedented pain, death, marginalization, and amplified anger and grief. The devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the abject lack of leadership for a public health strategy has taken its final toll on the lingering prospect of rediscovering American exceptionalism. The bandaid now pulled off the systemic racism underpinning our communities and health delivery system, we are left to clearly see what was there all along.
In this series of black and white photographs, I strive to capture the division and utter disruption of this time in America. I – like so many of my friends, family, and colleagues – yearn to see the upcoming election as a chance for normalcy. Is it possible?
Carolyn Meltzer is an Atlanta-based fine arts photographer whose lifelong love and deep respect for nature are expressed in her creative work. Meltzer’s photographs have been featured in more than 50 solo and juried group shows in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, Portland, Los Angeles, Berlin, Barcelona, and Athens and in arts festivals including Atlanta Celebrates Photography, the Berlin Photo Biennale, Art Takes Miami, and New Orleans’PhotoNOLA.
Always drawn to visual images, Meltzer studied both photography and imaging science and also works as a physician radiologist. Photography has been the creative complement to her medical imaging career.
Meltzer has also enjoyed several fruitful artistic collaborations. Together with the renowned New York-based visual artist Anne Patterson, Meltzer produced “Inspiration Echoed” in which photographer and painter amplify each media’s tribute to nature through a series of paired pieces. This work has been featured at both Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center and Denise Bibro Gallery, New York City. Meltzer also collaborated with poet Sophia Aley to produce the exhibit and book “Under Wraps,” and with writer/poet Don McIver on the ongoing online “Visuals in Verse” series. A water-themed abstract portfolio “Liquid Landscapes” arose from a collaboration with Atlanta photographer Debora Cartagena, and was shown at Mason Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta as part of ARTiculate 2015, an annual urban art event that benefits the UAE Youth Artists Program.
Meltzer has received recognition regionally and globally for her art, including Honorable Mention in the Women in Photography International Competition 2012, First Place in the Louisville National Juried Photography Show in 2013, First Place in the Women in Focus Annual Juried Show 2015, First Place (landscape and nature) in the Roswell Photographic Society Annual Open Juried Show 2016, and Finalist/Honorable Mention for the 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020 Julia Margaret Cameron International Award for Women Photographers and 2017 Charles Dodgson Black and White Award. BW Gallerist included Meltzer as among its Best of the Best: Emerging Fine Art Photography Artists of 2017. One of her notable black and white portfolios is maintained in the Yale University Beinecke Library Archive and other works have been published in South x Southeast Photomagazine, the American Journal of Neuroradiology, and Edge of Humanity Magazine.
Meltzer’s photographic works reside in private collections in Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Charlotte.