David Rabkin


David Rabkin

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Self-portrait (2021)

About The Work
The Heart of the Matter is about place, or more precisely, what places feel like and mean to us.  If places have souls, then these works aim to reveal them. And even if places don’t, there’s still something essential about each one, something emotional at the core of how we relate to it. That core feeling-meaning is The Heart of the Matter.

To get at this essence, I’m exploring what moves me most in photographs and what gets in the way. Within certain constraints, the camera captures everything. Sometimes it’s more than I want. Taking a photograph can be surprisingly like bringing home a block of marble; what’s non-essential must be chipped away for the work to emerge. With The Heart of the Matter, I try to evoke an emotional state, the essential impact of each place, by combining images and stripping away what’s non-essential so the core can powerfully yet quietly emerge.

Although this work started with place-based imagery, what’s central are the techniques, the associated way of seeing, and the effort to express the feel of an experience.  It’s beginning to lead in new directions. Blue/Retrospective and Blue, Take 2, for example explore the essence and personal meaning of a color.

Further, because of their depth and sometimes-dimensionless character, the work lends itself to experiments in three dimensions, how the works are framed and sometimes going as far as creating wall-sculpture.  I don’t know where this work will take me, and that’s okay; the journey is intriguing.

About David
I am insatiably curious, chronically creative, and [some say] wildly multi-faceted. One of my grandfathers was a patent attorney, the other a painter, photographer and woodworker. My mother was a talented needleworker, knitter and dressmaker, knowledgeable about antique furniture and oriental rugs.  She had a deep appreciation and understanding of any and all forms of craftsmanship.  My father, as CEO of a major teaching hospital, managed tremendous complexity, exhibiting a different variety of craftsmanship, and lifelong reflective practice, to build and maintain an organization that stayed true to its core (and multidimensional) mission.

As a kid, I wanted to be an inventor.  And through two careers, one in software engineering and a second in science museums, as well as a continuous stream of artistic pursuits, I’ve made good on that intent.

Stage photograph, 2023

Design/learn-to-weld project, 1979

Immersive planetarium show, 2015

Within the broad landscape of media in which I have worked (you can see the range on my friends & family pages), photography is a deep and winding stream that has never run dry. More than a decade as photographer (and makeup manager) for a community opera company has transformed my camera work. On stage, the uniqueness of each moment and constantly shifting light have taught me to photograph intuitively, kinesthetically, at one with the show through my camera. And while I marvel at the capabilities of modern technology, in this context if I don’t set exposure manually and dynamically, the results often miss the mark; I may catch the moment and frame it well, but the image won’t sing. This quest to capture the essence of a fleeting moment is echoed in The Heart of the Matter; here too, it’s about capturing something deep so others can feel it. I’m just using an expanded set of techniques do so.

Through my experiences in museums, including seven years directing a planetarium that produced fulldome films and leading an art/science gallery that mounted 14 exhibits, I’ve developed an appreciation – and love – of immersion and scale. It’s unavoidable when you imagine on a galactic scale and create for a 50-foot dome. I remember the moment when, after many frustrating iterations, my team finally got the view of and movement through Saturn’s rings just right. It was impossibly huge, breathtaking, melodic in movement. I felt the tears and shouted, “You’ve done it, gang! We’re finally there.” That’s what I’m aiming for with The Heart of the Matter, and perhaps with everything I create.


Cambridge Art Association's 2024 Members Prize Show featuring Winter Silence on the River
  • Cambridge Art Association CAA@University Place Gallery, Fall Salon, group exhibition Cambridge, MA. September/October 2023 
  • Griffin Museum of Photography, Winter Solstice 2023, group exhibition, Winchester, MA. December/January 2023/4
  • Concord Art Society, Members Juried 2: Collage, Crafts, Drawing, Graphics, Mixed Media, Photography, Printmaking 2024, juried exhibition, Concord, MA, February/March 2024
  • Cambridge Art Association Kathryn Scholtz Gallery, 2024 Members Prize Show, juried exhibition, Cambridge, MA, February-April 2024
  • Marblehead Arts Association, Variations, juried national exhibition, April-June 2024

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