The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky has announced the four photographers for the 2012-13 Robert C. May Photography Lecture Series and gallery exhibits, one of the museum’s signature events. This year’s artists are:
David Hilliard: His large, multipanel works explore relationships. Lecture Nov. 2, exhibit Oct. 5 to Nov. 11.
Lalla Essaydi: The photographer with Moroccan and Saudi Arabian roots explores the role of women in Middle Eastern culture. Lecture Nov. 16, exhibit Nov. 16 to Dec. 23.
Hank Willis Thomas: Using a commercial style, Thomas explores class and racial issues, particularly in sports. Lecture March 1, exhibit Feb. 8 to March 10.
Martha Rosler: Over four decades, Rosler has used found images to create striking commentaries on American culture. Lecture April 5, exhibit March 15 to April 21.
All lectures are at 4 p.m. in the Worsham Theater of the UK Student Center. Exhibitions are in The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky in the Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose Street. Admission to the lectures and exhibitions is free.
Photographer Amy Stein is a city girl. Primarily, she has lived in Washington, D.C., and New York, where encounters between humans and wildlife usually involve squirrels.
So when she went to the country to work on a project about women and guns, she was surprised to hear about more serious encounters, including a girl seeing a bear on the other side of the chain-link fence that separated her home from the mountains.
“I just became fascinated with these stories and so I set out to re-create these stories,” Stein said by phone from Parsons The New School of Design in New York, where she teaches photography.
The project is Domesticated, on exhibit at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky as part of the Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series. She will talk about the project at 4 p.m. Friday in a free lecture at the UK Student Center’s Worsham Theatre.
Domesticated started at Dave Clark’s taxidermy shop in Matamoras, Pa., which became the setting for the series.
“He was kind of open-minded to working with an artist like myself,” Stein says. “Through spending time in his store and spending time in the town, I became very interested in the location of the town, which is between the Delaware River and a big mountain park. It’s a small town sort of sandwiched between two natural spaces.
“As I spent more time at Dave Clark’s local taxidermy shop, I was hearing more and more about these human-animal encounters that happened at night.”
She tried to wait out some naturally occurring images. For the most part, though, she quickly came to realize that she needed to stage the shots.
“We set out every weekend to create images related to specific stories,” Stein says of herself and her husband, John, who made regular trips from New York to Matamoras, about 80 miles northwest of the city.
It turned out to be a really good thing to know a taxidermist. Clark or his customers would lend Stein the animals that would be posed in a variety of looks: a wolf howling at a floodlight in a Target parking lot, a deer lounging in a greenhouse, that big black bear startling the little girl at her swimming pool.
“The bear’s face had this ridiculous expression, this open-mouth, aggressive expression,” Stein says of the animal, which eventually was photographed from behind. “It took me a while to realize I need to get behind the bear and show the form of the bear without showing the face because that will have more power and also camouflage this ridiculous expression.”
Stein says she usually had to take some time to talk with the people whom she asked to be in the photos, to help them understand what she was doing and that this wasn’t a “smile for the camera” type of portrait.
“One thing I would always do is bring examples of images that are already made, that are in the style of what I wanted to make,” Stein says. “I was lucky at this point that there were some images in Oprah magazine and some pretty big magazines that had published some of the images. That gives you immediate credibility in a sense.”
Some photographs were spontaneous, including Threat, which shows a little boy in the woods with a deer, and Fast Food, which depicts seagulls swooping in to eat a discarded burger and fries in a parking lot.
“It’s a lot easier for animals to eat our refuse and scraps, because they have calories and protein and they don’t have to hunt it,” Stein says.
Animals eating humans’ discards was one of several themes in the series, along with fences that people build to put up barriers between themselves and the natural world, even though the barriers don’t always hold.
Predator shows a little girl standing in a flowery pink dress at the open gate of her fence as a coyote walks menacingly by. Stein says that sometime later, she heard that the same family had trouble with a bear that wanted to hibernate under their house.
Stein says that despite such annoyances, she found that most of the people knew what they were getting into, living where they live.
“They’re lovely people who want to share the beauty and wonder of their surroundings,” Stein says.
And they have, through her lens.
Mark Klett didn’t go to college for photography. Taking pictures was a nice hobby, a thing to do on the side. But science — specifically geology — was how he expected to make his living.
Nearly four decades later, he comes to The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky as part of its Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series.
Klett might have been a little surprised that he ended up with a career in photography, but his subject matter isn’t surprising at all.
When he started graduate school in photography at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, N.Y., Klett says, “I didn’t know what the art of photography was about, what the field was all about, the current dialogues or the art of photography. I didn’t think much about landscape photography. I really thought it was boring.”
But in the summertime, he worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, which took him to Montana and Wyoming and got him thinking about landscapes.
What he came to understand was that landscape photography was not just about aiming his lens at a rock or a tree. It was choices about light and perspective that separated snapshots from photographs.
“I tell my students all the time that landscape photography would seem to be a sort of neutral subject, and that’s why I found it boring, initially — a rock and a tree and this and that and so what?,” Klett says. “But then I learned that photographs were actually the result of someone’s decision-making, and that they had a purpose, and that they were reflections of an opinion, and they were a little more like editorial statements. That’s when it got interesting to me.”
One of his first serious forays was essentially trying to see through the eyes and lenses of some of the original masters of landscape photography, notably Ansel Adams.
The project was to study iconic photos of the American West, in many cases figure out what they were and where they were taken, and replicate them.
Most of the work in The Bluegrass Palette of Andre Pater, currently on exhibit at the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, was loaned from private collections and will go back behind closed doors once the exhibit ends Oct. 23.
But you could take an original home, and help The Race for Education, if you are competitive with your checkbook. Four pieces Pater created depicting the disciplines of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Sept. 25 to Oct. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park, will be sold at a live auction during an evening event at the Lexington Country Club, 2550 Paris Pike. The Race for Education, a scholarship organization benefitting equine families and students pursuing equine careers, is also selling limited edition, numbered prints of the Pater series titled The Power of the Horse. Prints are $100 each.
Tickets to the event, including cocktails and dinner, are $250 for individuals, $400 for couples (including a print) and $1,500 for a table of eight. For more information and to register for the auction, call (859) 252-8648 or visit raceforeducation.org.
Mar20Filed under: Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Photography, slide shows, Visual arts; Tagged as: African-American hamlets, Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Jahi Chikwendiu, Jimtown Male Chorus, Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series, Sarah Hoskins, Smithsonian Institution
Click the play button to hear Sarah Hoskins talk about her work in Central Kentucky and see a slide show of her images.
Equine photography brought Sarah Hoskins to Lexington. African-American hamlets around the city and in Central Kentucky made the Bluegrass feel like home.
“I was introduced to one woman named Lydia Talbert, and I was introduced to Maddoxtown Church,” Hoskins, left, says of her friend from the New Zion community who has since died. “And from there, what happens is, it gets to be a trust thing. I met one person and they led me to somebody else, and they led me to somebody else. I never thought I would be doing this for 10 years.”
Now, the results of her decade of visiting New Zion, Uttingertown and other communities are on display at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky. Hoskins will give an address at UK’s Worsham Theatre on Friday as part of the Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series.
“I think it’s really important that it is in Kentucky,” says Hoskins, who lives with her family north of Chicago. “I’ve always given lectures, and this work was incorporated with other projects. This is the first time I will give a lecture solely on this project, and it’s an honor to do it in Kentucky.”
She says she talked to residents of the communities where she worked to make sure they were OK with having their pictures displayed at the museum. Many residents plan to come to the lecture. When she has spoken before, Hoskins has ended her lectures with a photo and recording of the Jimtown Male Chorus, and her camera can be heard clicking in the background. The group will sing at Hoskins’ lecture.
Her appearance bookends this year’s Robert C. May series with strong Kentucky themes; the first one, last fall, showcased the photography of The Washington Post’s Jahi Chikwendiu, who grew up in Lexington and started his photography career at the Herald-Leader.
I know I am not the only person at the Lexington Herald-Leader who knew Jahi Chikwendiu was a remarkable talent the moment I met him. So his award winning career at The Washington Post comes as no surprise, nor does the decision of the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky to show Jahi’s work as part of the prestigious Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series. To preview his exhibit, I caught up with Jahi earlier this week before he started a busy day on the job for the Post.
Click the play button to hear our podcast with Jahi Chikwendiu:
Here are a few more images from the exhibit.
“Black Hawk Down” (2003) — Mourners at the Washington D.C. funeral of a soldier killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Iraq.
May30Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Music, Opera, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: Albert B. Chandler Medical Center, Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Michael Karpf, John Reyntiens, John Tuska, LaVon Van Williams, Myra Leigh Tobin Chapel, Springtime in Kentucky, Stephen Rolfe Powell, Warren Seelig
John Reyntiens developed his glass work for the chapel in the University of Kentucky’s new hospital with a keen sense of where it would be displayed.
“I didn’t want it to be mechanical,” Reyntiens said on the morning of May 22, showing samples of his work for the Myra Leigh Tobin Chapel at the Albert B. Chandler Medical Center. “People who are here will spend a lot of time around machines and medical equipment.
“It is important for people to have places to take time out and meditate and be quiet.”
Reyntiens’ Springtime in Kentucky is one of many pieces of art being commissioned and bought for the new hospital, which is under construction and is expected to start opening in phases in 2010.
“The art is my favorite part of this project,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs at UK. “It humanizes the building.”
In filling the building with artwork, Karpf said, the hospital is taking cues from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and the Cleveland Clinic, which have made art a big part of their designs.
By incorporating art, both visual and performing, Karpf said, the hospital becomes more inviting and comforting for patients. The art is selected to reflect Kentucky. One piece, a 90-foot multimedia wall at the entrance, will be a constantly changing display of images from across the commonwealth.
The idea is to move away from a traditional, sterile hospital environment to something warmer and more conducive to healing. Karpf also talks about establishing music therapy and art therapy programs at the hospital.
“It is incredible what art and music do for people,” Karpf said, showing a virtual tour of the hospital.
In addition to visual art, the hospital will have a 300-seat, state-of-the-art education and performance theater, financed by the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation. All of the art initiatives in the hospital are privately financed, Karpf said.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich