"Art is first determined by the person making it and second by the person viewing it," said Tom Storm on the opening night of his first solo show, The Bubble Project, at the Jim Thorpe Gallery, part of the Carbon County Cultural Project.
This truth became evident as visitors began to file into his exhibit room, examining curiously the carefully placed black and white and colored photos taken while the images were suspended inside an ordinary soap bubble. Viewers commented sometimes delightfully and sometimes in brief words of awe at how familiar and, yet, new each varying image was to them when recreated inside the same medium over and over again.
Immediately, tourists noticed the famous locations from great, powerful international landmarks like The Blue Mosque in Istanbul and the cobblestone streets of Gdansk in Poland which they had visited in the past. Conversely, locals smiled at an innovative new view of the familiar Dimmick Memorial Library.
Storm somehow did what all great artists do. He returned home from the wide international world with a new vision of everything. And he recreated that view through a bubble for those whose steps might never trod too far from local soil. Viewers at the exhibit became as aware as Storm had been of what it looked like when Galway and Jim Thorpe are allowed to circle and swirl in the rainbow shades of a bubble. The gentle childlike innocence of each bubble image did not detract from the sharp cutting off of all that is not contained inside. This result created a sense of suddenness and fragility each time the viewer rested his or her eyes on a black and white circle of Independence Hall or a steaming fjord in Norway.
When asked why he chose such a strikingly different window with which to share his photographic art he said that, at first, the concept came to him by accident.
"I just wondered what a picture would look like if it was taken through a bubble." But quickly his experiment became successful, and so he continued on with the new technique. "Everyone takes pictures of the same landmarks and icons all the time. I wanted to do something different. So, when it worked, I started taking bubble pictures on purpose."
And while several visitors noted that their view of the images inside Storm's Bubble Project brought the world home, he saw the bubbles as "taming the environment." Making the moment that will never be again, freeze inside a circular, Earth-shaped oneness.
"It's all about things you cannot control: Environment, time, temperature, sudden human interaction."
Storm's exhibit will last through the end of October at the CCCP building on West Broadway in Jim Thorpe. It is a free exhibit and open to the public. Storm plans on bringing his work to many more galleries in the near future. Already, he has lectured at the Palmerton Camera Club an event that was very well attended. His art has a lengthy list of admirers from around the world, and growing daily.