Coming to a close is an exhibition of student photographs displayed in the Don Lee Student Gallery in the Windgate Art and Design building at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. It’s a compelling exhibit that showcases the developing vision of students in the digital photography course. 23 photographs capture moments of time in the Arkansas landscape.
Associate Professor Bryan Alexis explained the project, “We always push our students conceptually. We want them to grow artistically by putting thought into all of their creations. While the subject was landscape, I wanted to have them ask the question, ’Why?’ Are we just going to go out and make pretty pictures, or could this mean something more?”
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is currently having an exhibition of Ansel Adams and other landscape photographers. Students researched those artists to generate inspiration for what they might achieve through their own photographs. “It was very fortuitous that all that coalesced at the same time,” Alexis explained.
Photography is uniquely powerful at capturing change with its ability to record the same location spanning decades. “The idea is that they are making a record. When you make a photo like this you are making a record that can mean something to someone 100 years from now.”
Students researched climate change as it is affecting and projected to continue affecting the Arkansas landscape. “How is climate change affecting Arkansas? How is it affecting the River Valley? It wasn’t just this ethereal global question, but how is it specifically affecting you? That question informed all the photographs.”
Students spent time selecting, shooting and editing their images along this theme. They were then required to craft an artist statement describing how their final photographs fit into that idea. Alexis explained that, for many of the students, “There was a revelation of what the landscape could mean to them on a very personal level.”
The campus is closing for Thanksgiving break and will not open again until next semester. However, it seemed a shame to not share a small selection of outstanding photographs from these burgeoning artists. One last look at the exhibition “Before It’s Gone” before it’s gone.
This column is produced by the River Valley Art Coalition. Our mission is to inform citizens and visitors of fine art exhibitions and education opportunities in Fort Smith and the surrounding region. We also highlight people who make the local art scene such a vibrant and important part of our community. To send comments or for more information on the River Valley Art Coalition, contact [email protected]