Noah Doely: By the Light

November 2, 2013 through February 25, 2014

Friday, November 1st, 7PM
Artist Pre-Film Lecture | 8:00 p.m.
Film "The Spirit of the Beehive"

Film details below exhibition information

The San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, California 92112

Noah Doely produces places in his work. His environments urge the viewer to reconsider their own place within history and their relationship to the subject matter. By choosing caves as a source of inspiration for this new body of photographs entitled, Above & Below, Doely reinforces the notion of universalism as these photographs remain distanced from a particular culture or individual identity. Furthermore, through observing the dramatic role of light in these works and its interplay with cave forms, the relationship between nature and belief become reinforced. By isolating these forms and positioning the light in a particular way, these caves are made sacred.

At first glance, these photographs represent the natural world; however, the processes in which the works are produced result in deception. In the photographs, Doely creates dramatic, yet peaceful underwater spaces created through the use of a pinhole camera. Instead of focusing on wide-open aquatic spaces, he imagines caves as dark spaces that are devoid of any kind of life. These caves are made by the artist as elaborate dioramas. In describing his process the artist explains, "I began by making molds of aquatic rocks, casting them, and then reconstructing them into various formations. Next, I placed these constructions inside a glass tank and filled it with water. Using a single light source, I then directed light into this space. By changing this beam's intensity, shape and direction, I was essentially sculpting with light."

While the works in Noah Doely: By the Light possess considerable darkness, they are revealed to the viewer through the manipulation of light, for example, the way in which the light enters the space through the pinhole camera and the way in which the light reveals to the viewer the crevices and varied contours of the caves are essential to the work. In Swann's Way: In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust wrote "….illuminated by the light of the setting sun, which even at that distance I saw playing and smiling on their sloping sides." Here, Proust’s prose shares a certain affinity with Doely’s photographs.

First Friday Films:

The Spirit of the Beehive

Friday, November 1st,
7PM Pre-Film Lecture | 8PM Film
James S. Copley Auditorium

Film | $5 members, students, military, seniors | $10 nonmembers
Charcuterie Package | $50 members, $60 nonmembers

Following six-year-old Ana, her life with her aloof and detached family, and her fascination with an old Frankenstein film, this highly symbolic work was created not long after the victory of Franco's forces.

As Victor Erice's 1973 directorial debut, The Spirit of the Beehivecontinues to be regarded not only as one of his best films, but a masterpiece of Spanish cinema. Set in a remote Castilian village, the films' carefully considered scenes combine striking visuals and subtle symbolism to offer a veiled critique of Spanish society that cleared Franco's censorship office.

In conjunction with the opening of Noah Doely: By the Light, Museum galleries will remain open until 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 1. View the exhibition for the first time, and hear Doely speak on the construction of his works, and the relationship between November's featured film and his larger photographic practice.

Approximate running time is 95 minutes, the film is NR, 1973.

Noah Doely received his MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California San Diego. He is Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Northern Iowa. The presentation of By the Light marks the artist’s first solo exhibition at a museum.


Monday - Tuesday,
Thursday - Friday,
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday Closed
Sunday 12:00 - 5:00 p.m

For more on Noah Doely's work, please visit his website at:

Image credit:
Noah Doely. Untitled #4 from the series Above & Below, 2013. Silver gelating print mounted on aluminum. Courtesy of the Artist and The San Diego Museum of Art.