On Oct. 10 the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, located on the Keene State College campus near the Redfern Arts Center, opened a new exhibit. This new exhibit, organized by the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, is called “Light Works: A Century in Photography,” covering the entirety of photographic history. The introduction and context of the exhibit was provided by text placed on the gallery’s walls.
“More than any other medium, photography has straddled the disciplines of science and fine arts,” the exhibit claimed. This refers to photography’s past as a tool of scientific measurement and its artistic merits as a medium of art. The reality of the camera is called into question by the exhibit. It stated, “Throughout its short history, photography has continuously explored the spectrum that joins the promise of objective Truth with the subjective practice of Art.”
A piece of the exhibit is a motion study by Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge studied the movement of animals and humans through rapidly-taken photos. This famously started from the question, “Does a horse always have a hoof on the ground?”
One image featured in the exhibit was by Iranian photographer Shirin Neshat, called “Rapture Series (Women in Line)” taken in 1999. It depicts many women wearing burqas, a traditional Muslim dress that covers the entire body, sitting around in a large circle. History major at KSC and first generation Iranian-American Alex Habibi stated, “Before the Islamic Revolution in the seventies women were able to express themselves liberally. We should understand the context of Islam in a post-revolution context.”
Andreas Gursky’s 1990 “Salerno” was one of the few color photographs in the exhibit. It features a large parking lot situated on a shipping dock. The car’s color varies between white, blue and red. Gallery monitor Jaedyn Bedell commented, “Black and white makes you look at the photograph differently.”
While most of the world has now converted to color photography this exhibit is “mostly black and white.” Photographer Frank Gohlke has a photograph of a grain silo in the exhibit, one in a long series of such photos.
The grain silo in its landscape, according to the text provided for the gallery, is “a tension between the man-made structures and the natural landscape.” It is not what is photographed but how that sometimes matters most.
The photograph “Cul de Sacs” features a cul de sac in the middle of the desert with no houses built around it. It depicts a failed attempt at building in a new area. The text accompanying the photo describes it as a “failed attempt to master the environment.”
A prominent feature of the photo is a cactus that bisects the frame. Film student Sarah DeFreitas commented, “I really enjoy the way the photo has the cul de sac intruding into nature, but at the same time has the cactus, a natural plant, intruding into the frame.”
Bedell also said, “I like when classes come in.” She was referring specifically to an instance in which a dance class came in and had to create a dance to a piece of art.
This exhibit will continue until Dec. 7. The Thorne-Sagendorph Gallery is free and open to the public. Also featured at the Thorne-Sagendorph is “Embracing Diverse Voices: 80 Years of African-American Art,” a collection of various artworks in a multitude of mediums by African-Americans.
The permanent display of the gallery is “Intersection: Art, Culture, and Identity” which debuted in September of 2013 is still up. It is an artistically based learning exhibit that invites patrons to critically analyze objects and the world around them.
Joseph Jowett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org