Harmony of the Spheres

Photographs by Jim Nickelson

October 30th - December 7th

Opening Reception:  Tuesday, November 6th 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Garner Center for Photographic Exhibitions
274 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453

Harmony of the Spheres

Harmony of the Spheres is an investigation into the way we as a species grapple with the unknown and our relationship to the Universe, particularly as those inquiries delve into the realms of science and the cosmos. I follow in the footsteps of thinkers throughout millennia seeking order in the movement of the stars and planets, embracing how the quest for order in the Universe as it relates to myriad other fields of study, ranging from music, to numerology, to representation of music and the cosmos in art, and to modern cosmology and beyond. I create each photograph in Harmony using as raw materials photographs of one night’s performance of the night sky, and then create pieces from a series of completed photographs.

Many ancient thinkers seeking to find order in the Universe, starting with the Greek philosopher Pythagoras and continuing for over two thousand years, believed that celestial objects such as the sun, moon, visible planets, and stars moved above and around the Earth in a series of rotating celestial spheres. The movement of these spheres created celestial music as each rotated in harmonious relationship with the others. This music of the spheres as they revolved about the earth in sublime harmony also influenced Earth-bound aspects such as music, processes from nature, and even the human soul. The quest to understand the sublime motion of the heavens above was thus seen as the key to unlocking the mysteries of life on Earth and was in many ways the impetus behind both modern music theory and the fundamental idea of scientific inquiry.

Harmony of the Spheres begins appropriately with the Prelude, a completed piece in black & white, and continues with an exploration of color with Ouroboros. Ouroboros is a work-in-progress inspired by the ancient symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail that represents the infinite cycle of nature’s endless creation and destruction. The Euclidean Sonata is a new uncompleted piece that uses the cyanotype process to celebrate geometric shapes. I use the Sun, the closest star, to expose these cyanotypes of manipulated star trails. I continue to work on a number of new pieces within the broader Harmony project to push the boundaries of shape, color, and the nature of photography and the physical print.

Jim works full time as a fine art photographer and custom digital printer (as Nickelson Editions) and teaches workshops on photography and digital printing both privately and through Maine Media Workshops. Before committing himself to the photographic life, he pursued the classic artistic career path of NASA engineer and corporate lawyer. Jim makes his home in Camden, Maine, with his amazing wife and daughter.

His work has received numerous awards, including being honored as Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park and Arizona's Chiricahua National Monument. His work is exhibited widely, including in museums or galleries such as the Photo Resource Center at Boston University (Boston, MA), Danforth Museum of Art (Framingham, MA), Center for Maine Contemporary Art (Rockport, ME), University of Maine Museum of Art (Bangor, ME), Michener Art Museum (Doylestown, PA), Bates College Museum of Art (Lewiston, ME), Three Columns Gallery at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), and 555 Gallery (Boston, MA)