Book Review: Kevin Lear: A Glass Darkly
By Peru McCarra
The typical New Yorker passes urban objects during their commutes and day-to-day walks. Benches, stoops, fences, garbage bags, tables, and greenery decorate the atmosphere, but are very much overlooked. The English cities of London and Kent aren't any different. No photographer understands this awareness more than Kevin Lear, a graduate of the Rochester College of Art and long time exhibitor at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Bradford’s National Media Museum. Kevin Lear’s book A Glass Darkly, elevates the perspective of the urban dweller by capturing the objects as sculptural art. The city objects and structures are isolated in the framing of the photograph so as to punctuate their significance.
Lear includes a poignant poetry piece commenting on the idea of the material world and beauty. The generations today love to celebrate and honor superficial beauty that lasts, being bombarded due to technology advancements, such as Photoshop and immediate demands yet neglect to appreciate true beauty, which has flaws and a final end. The excerpt, Peter Meinke’s Sonnet on the Death of the Man Who Invented Plastic Roses, continues to contemplate the sullied realization that men today have become artificial themselves and their only pleasure is in smelling plastic roses.
Yet, there is hope. One photograph included in the middle of the book depicts vines growing out of brick infrastructure. Even though most of the objects photographed are man made, the leaves growing regardless of harsh conditions offer reassurance that natural beauty remains resilient. Even the manufactured objects had to be invented by man himself. More so, the objects can only be created by natural materials of some kind. Though the images of trees, bushes and bouquets appear unsettling against the backdrop of a concrete city, there is no way to ignore their presence. The city dweller’s life in turn is only enhanced with the existence of plant and concrete adornments.