I’m going to let you in on a little secret; New York City is bubbling with talent. I’m talking about pure, raw, unrefined, bona fide TALENT! What are you going on about, Tracee? Well, my latest “discovery” is architectural and landscape photographer Magda Biernat and believe me she’s more than worthy of the conversation.
Originally from Poland, Biernat now calls New York City home. Lucky us. With her she brings a cornucopia of prestigious awards like the TMC/Kodak Grant, a Lucie Award, a Magenta Foundation Flash Forward/Emerging Photographers, and Photographic Center Northwest Photo-Op.
Biernat’s work has been praised by The New York Times and has nestled between the pages of Metropolis Magazine, Afar Magazine, and ELLE Décor. And, she’s been the subject of many solo shows in New York City, Seattle, Belgium and Poland.
Thursday night, I trotted over to my new hot spot, the Clic Gallery, to check out Magda’s latest work of art, Betel Nut Beauties. In Taiwan betel nut beauties are young scantily clad women who sell betel nuts (or paan) and cigarettes along the roadside from brightly lit encased huts. As you can imagine, the Beauties cater to a mostly male clientele with transient occupations.
Picturing these women being imprisoned behind glass and put on display immediately conjured up thoughts of loneliness and drear. In my mind’s eye, I saw smoky gray hues and splotches of black. But Magda shoots with a different eye. She managed to find beauty in the Beauties. The result is bold, lively photographs that somehow dance and capture the humanness. The colors are really striking – green grass sprouting in front of one betel hut or the pretty pink tint used to paint another (my favorite). Vibrant, rich colors that really draw you in.
Perhaps one would argue that by making the photographs so pretty, Biernat is attempting to hide the seedy ugliness of the profession. To those people I would say, life is heavy and often burdensome. And every human deserves to be seen through rose-colored glasses even if for just a fleeting moment (chalk it up to my romantic idealism).
Although those women are in reality still scantily clad and still hawking cigarettes and paan and still very lonely, with her lens Magda Biernat gave them a different story. One that’s pretty in pink…and rose.
Don’t take my word for it; stop by the Clic Gallery to see the Betel Nut Beauties for yourself! The exhibition runs through March 6, 2011.
Thanks to Nicholas Small of N-Scene Photography for using his great skills to help capture this wonderful event!