“It becomes less about technique and more about expression and experiences.”
What makes the “People of Wal-Mart” website so successful? Is it that our culture is one that captures, that digitally replicates everyday people? Is it a new twist on Social Realism? Perhaps.
Whatever the essence is, Mark A. Powell has it in spades (Now, I’m comparing the photographic quality or the depth of meaning in Powell’s work to that of the website. Rather, I’m suggesting Powell’s work has the same captivating essences. What draws us in?).
If not Social Realism, then something close. Indeed, Powell portrays his subjects as unremarkable heroes. He transforms the salt of the earth into the light. Though such discussion is not to discount the aesthetic properties of Powell’s work, it is important to go beyond color composition and framing. This is the “expression and experiences” that Powell notes in a 2006 interview. This is the essence that pulls us in, that tugs us closer and closer to some universal experience.
There is something innately human and yet alien in Powell’s work. Again, consider the “People of Wal-Mart” website. We scoff and laugh, yet take comfort in knowing that we are not all that dissimilar. This is what Powell does. He shows us that we, too, are human.