Winthrop Gallery: Timelessness and Stillness – The Photography of Pearl Cherrington

Spring 2020

Photographer Pearl Cherrington is one of the original members of the Winthrop Gallery which was started about 18 years ago in downtown Winthrop. But, her interest in photography begin long before that she was around 10 years old using her mother’s old Brownie twin lens reflex camera.  Growing up in the rolling hills of Kansas, she lived by a lake where she enjoyed going out into the woods and to the lake to take photos of the trees, the ice on the lake in winter and some of the rock formations.  She still finds water, rocks, and shadows intriguing and good subjects for her photos.

She received her training at the University of Kansas in the School of Journalism.  However, she was not entirely satisfied with the curriculum and was attracted to the School of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture.  She was able to create her own curriculum and took courses in photography from all of these departments.  The University had created a degree in general studies, and she convinced them that she wanted to emphasize photography, and she was allowed to do so.

At that time, all photography was film developed in a darkroom.  From those beginnings, she continued to experiment with various techniques.  Black and white photos were her first love.  But, early on she experimented with Polaroids using semi-matte spray to create textured effects and other experiments.  Today she continues with experimentation and sometimes uses her photographs in mixed media pieces.  She uses a digital Canon camera with interchangeable lenses and also a point and shoot Canon, a Polaroid, and on rare occasions now, a Canon film camera.  She takes a camera with her wherever she goes.

When she is shooting, she aims for simple lines in what she calls a straight photograph complete the way she shoots it.  She uses Photoshop sparingly for color adjustments.  She wants to get the photo right the first time.  She doesn’t want to “tech it out”.  Some of her work is quite subtle, and she likes simplicity.  She wants her viewer to see what she sees and has tried to convey.  Her aesthetic is about the design elements she sees in the natural world.  She likes to create timelessness and stillness.  Perhaps this is a continuation of her interest in psychology as an undergraduate before she began her serious study of photography.  

She doesn’t believe that she will ever stop taking photos.  She is learning all the time and tries different techniques.  She recognizes that some images cannot be captured photographically which is a continual challenge to her.  The camera cannot always capture the lighting, the focus, or the magnitude of the beauty she sees. 

People recognize her style which she has developed over the years.  Even when she decides to do a mixed media piece, there is still the element of calm, subtlety, and simple design. 

Her photography is always on display at the Winthrop Gallery, and she also shows her work at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp on occasion.   Article written by Winthrop Gallery member Susan Donahue.