Gallery View: Chocolate block photos
Lydia Panas began collecting blocks of chocolate in 2000. She would find time to focus on her “Chocolate, Hair + Lint” still-life series back then, when she wasn’t busy with family life and raising three young children.
Photographing the combination of lint, chocolate, and her own hair, the work was, “Symbolic of my daily life,” according to the artist.
“The hair was a metaphor for aging, the lint from the children’s clothing was about family, and the chocolate referenced my often-forgotten desires. As markers of time, they recalled what fell away and what was gained.”
Revisiting the chocolate 17 years later, “Chocolate Dark” at the RE:find Gallery on the Walk, 26 N. Sixth St., located along the ArtsWalk, Allentown, featured the still-life photographs of blocks of chocolate on velvet by Panas. Tastefully arranged, 15 images from the series the series revolved around the chocolate blocks, themselves, stacked on dark velvet.
“I have always been interested in the dark side, the uncomfortable things we hide, the secrets. I’ve always wanted to make the darkness visible,” Panas says.
“In all my work, I explore the feelings we are taught to hide about ourselves. I investigate the hidden shame that keeps us silent and powerless. Inside this complex darkness, there is strength.
“The more we do not look at them, the less we grow,” says Panas. By looking at “and understanding them, we grow,” she says. She expresses the hope that others would be influenced by her work to grow as well, through introspection.
For Panas, chocolate represents nurturing. The images, taken with medium format film (2 ¼ in. x 2 ¼ in.), featured variously assembled, confectionary bricks of chestnut, tan, and golden brown shades, casting luminous velvet shadows.
Panas worked on her “Chocolate Dark” project from 2016 through 2017 whenever she wasn’t busy with her photographic portraiture work. She related, “Chocolate is like this thing that we long for. I think all of my work is so much about longing.”