Imagine walking through Syracuse when the Erie Canal existed or when horse-drawn carriages lined the streets. Colleen Woolpert, an interdisciplinary artist and 2011 alumna of the Department of Transmedia’s graduate program in art photography, has curated Syracuse in 3-D (1860-1910), an interactive exhibition that immerses visitors in the city’s past by way of vintage 3-D photographs (stereographs), viewable with her patent-pending TwinScope Viewer.
Woolpert combed Syracuse archives to bring out a selection of local photographers’ uniquely engaging works for the exhibition. Most of the stereographs are on loan from the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA), with the addition of a few from Woolpert’s own collection. The exhibition will be on view at Syracuse’s SALTQuarters Gallery, 115 Otisco Street, from December 4-19, with an opening reception on Friday, December 4, from 5-8 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday, noon-3 p.m. A series of related “TwinScope Tours” will take place on three consecutive Saturdays, December 5, 12, and 19, from 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Woolpert’s TwinScope Viewer is the first stereoscope designed for viewing stereographs on display. Handmade at the SALT Makerspace in Syracuse and sold nationally, her device brings stereographs out of their archives for greater appreciation. At the Syracuse in 3-D exhibition, she invites visitors to use TwinScope Viewers hanging throughout the gallery to transform the small side-by-side photographs into a vivid 3-D experience.
“Presented this way, the stereograph is equal parts photograph, artifact, and event,” she says.
Syracuse in 3-D exemplifies Woolpert’s practice of finding and showcasing people and organizations that make Syracuse exciting today. It is part of her ongoing TwinScope project, which includes SyraViews stereoscopes in Forman Park and Sight Unseen, exhibited at OHA in 2012. A Syracuse resident, she maintains a studio at SALTQuarters for reciprocal exchange with artists and businesses that she connected with as artist-in-residence in 2014.
Woolpert worked as a professional photographer for 12 years before coming to Syracuse for graduate school. Her photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, Bicycling, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and San Francisco Magazine, among other publications. At the College of Visual and Performing Arts, she was able to grow as an artist; her current work intersects photography, science, and design and has been exhibited throughout the U.S.
“My hybrid art practice was built at VPA,” she says. “I came from the commercial photography sector and wanted to learn how to develop a conceptual framework for my projects while expanding my skills to encompass related modes such as video, installation, and performance. Once at VPA, things opened up further and I learned to build electric circuits, code interactive devices—and from there segue to industrial design. The outstanding faculty in VPA guided me to do more than I thought I was capable of.”
To learn more about Woolpert, her work, and the exhibition, visit colleenwoolpert.com.