The Evolution of SilverFish
In the mid to late 1990s, a special group of people were following the photography program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Many of them were older, and all brought dedication, talent, and life experiences to the classes. In that group, there was excitement about photography, the history of photography, photography as a fine art, and about such historic photography collectives as F64.
Between 1998 and 2000, all of that group graduated; some were even fortunate enough to be working with some aspect of their passion. By the summer of 2000, those not so fortunate were feeling a creative void in their lives. Artistic stimulation was needed, as was a place to practice the craft in a collective atmosphere with peers. The photography collective concept was revived.
During the summer, a number of meetings took place and gradually advanced to a more intellectual look at photography. By the end of the year there we were— a group of eight individuals committed to photography as a fine art in a collective environment.
They had different styles and philosophies and were quite disorganized at the outset. These differences caused some members to be impatient at times but reinforced the importance of open debate and honest criticism. The individual talents revealed leadership, creativity, experience in curating, and technical expertise, in addition to the artistic talents.
Early in 2001, the group adopted the name SilverFish--with all its photographic implications. The first show took form and opened in a temporary storefront gallery on 30 June, less than a year after the concept of a photography collective emerged. The original members were Andrea Crabbe, Burton Glendenning, Cathy McKelvey, Chris Giles, Karen Ruet, Kelly LeBlanc, Rachael Brodie, and Vicki Kramer.
Exhibition #1, Still Life, became a reality in a downtown vacant store front. The space was renovated and painted by members, truly a collective effort. The exhibition accentuated independent and differing styles and stretched the envelope of the standard definition of "still life". To operate the gallery, which was open 54 hours per week, each member worked at the gallery for a few hours each week.
The show was a critical success. This small group of unknown fine art photographers had an opening with over 100 present. In the month of July, approximately 800 people visited the gallery. Brief reports were published in the art sections of provincial newspapers. And all the Fishes gained from the experience.
Changes in membership continued as SilverFish moved to other waters and other pursuits and new Fish joined the school and refreshed the collective perspective. Many successful shows have ensued to great acclaim. Of particular note are Neurotica, a commissioned show with catalogue in 2009 at the University of New Brunswick Gallery and Unavailable Light which, like many of the SilverFish shows, was invited to tour.
Currently only two of the original eight remain in the collective, which now has 12 members.