MEET THE ARTIST JOHN FEMINO
At fourteen he started taking pictures, at sixteen he built his first darkroom and at seventeen John Femino hung around the Rhode Island School of Design, making friends with the photography teachers. One of the teachers, the world-renowned Harry Callahan, took an interest in the teenager and later helped Femino arrange to take photography classes at RISD while also attending Brown University.
At Brown, Femino pursued a medical degree. At RISD, Femino pursued his passion for photography. A consummate juggler, today Femino is a board-certified doctor of internal medicine who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction, integrating medical and mental health. Some fifty of his photographs reside on the walls of his medical offices on Ten Rod Road in North Kingstown. The frames surrounding the photographs were cut and assembled by Femino himself. A self-taught framer, Femino decided he needed to learn how to frame his own works when the expense grew too great.
In the evenings, Femino goes home to a 140-acre farm in Foster; he lives in the property's original 1770 farmhouse with his wife and two children. The certified organic farm produces up to eight acres of hay and one acre of vegetables. Out buildings house his woodshop and storage. The entire third floor of the farmhouse is home to his photography studio. Experimentation with alternative toning processes and severe allergies to chemicals used in developing black-and-white photographs led Femino to pursue color photography. A few years ago, he converted his entire photography operation to a digitally-based studio. All of his photographs are digitally processed in his computer's Photoshop program and printed on an Epson wide-format photo printer.
Although Femino's photographs are decidedly realistic, his interests lie in the abstraction of nature's patterns. It is very important to him that he "doesn't create the object." Instead Femino is "intrigued by the patterns and abstractions in nature," and says "over the years, my subject matter has not changed much." What has changed is the outlook of the photographer. His earlier photographs are pleasant nature photographs, with an emphasis on atmosphere. The later work shows a more sophisticated approach to nature's infinite variations, focusing on specific views, magnifying the subjects to larger than life and guiding the viewer to discover what the photographer has brought to light.
In his medical practice, John Femino guides his patients to change their lives by developing individual reward systems and discovering their own personal quality of life. Femino has found his quality of life in discovering and photographing nature.
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The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian. Paula Martiesian is a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.