Sheldon Museum of Art Main Content


Rising Form

  • Monte Gerlach, Rising Form.

Selected by Matty Cunningham
Help Center Associate
Information Technology Services

While I cannot speak for Monte Gerlach’s intention with Rising Form, I can say that the haunting metamorphosis he depicts speaks to the core of my being through a powerfully engulfing and emotive experience. The figure in the photograph, which seems to rise from a crouching position to a standing position during a long exposure, appears to be undergoing a very intense physical transformation evocative of the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes of that which preceded it. The imagery is as eerie and unsettling as it is inspiring, and thus simultaneously embodies both our fears and hopes. This transformation, a varied existence that speaks to the future as much as it does the present, captures my heart and captivates my interest so deeply because it parallels changes in my own life as I grow into my true self.

Through Gerlach’s expressive subject, I find inspiration and motivation to keep rising even if the going is tough and the journey ahead appears to be prolonged. This kind of message is especially poignant for the kind of transitional moment I am presently living. I am, in a sense, reinventing myself in terms of my own identity and expression. However, I feel the message of this imagery is also relatable for everyone in so far as we all experience a series of transformations while going about living, growing, and becoming ourselves. Perhaps one of the reasons why I am so drawn to this work is because it speaks to life, not just my own, but also to our collective existence as we keep moving.