An Exhibition by the Spring 2022 Advanced Photography Class
How can photography help us see? What do we overlook within ourselves as we move through the world? How can a photograph help us to look further, deeper – within ourselves and around us? A lens between our eyes and the world around us can open up our eyes to something we may not otherwise see.
In this exhibition featuring work from the Advanced Photography students of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, each artist uses their camera as a tool to illuminate aspects of our lives which are often overlooked. The body becomes landscape, a map of past experiences. The story of creation is reexamined and imagined. We meet people who are quietly engaged in
unpacking their white privilege. The visual landscape of the present begins to tell us stories of the past. We see what it feels like to exist in isolation. Fantasy shows us new truths about reality. This exhibit breaks down blinders and asks us to slow down and break up the ever-quickening pace of our lives, to look closer at what all too often is overlooked.
Exhibition and Group Chat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMwOqFvSzZ8
Bio: Natcha Wongchanglaw is a Thailand-born, US-based visual artist. She utilizes her camera to explore the themes of home, culture, community, identity, and the relationship between people and places. To examine the formation of personal mythology, she often incorporates herself and her experiences as a reference. Wongchanglaw’s work has been included in national and international exhibitions, including an ongoing public art show at The Presidio in San Francisco and the upcoming LensCulture New York 2022 in May. She earned her master’s degree in digital photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Art Studio at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, focusing on photography and digital media.
Project Statement: In my large-format photographic series, Scars, I use my body to communicate the idea of embracing oneself by examining imperfections and vulnerabilities in order to perceive them as life lessons and evidence of survival. Utilizing skills in lighting and studio photography I provide a clinical touch. I use a medium format camera to capture remarkable detail of my scars. Taking a closer look at the texture of my skin and the scars on various parts of my body in order to present the viewers with alternative perspectives, is also an experiment to communicate the message of self-love and worthiness.
“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” ― Steve Goodier
I remember people staring at my knee with wide-open eyes, and some even had their jaws open. They were staring at the weird, huge scar on my right knee, which hilariously someone thought was a tattoo. I got this scar when I was in college. I spent two weeks with my huge burning knee and swollen leg in the hospital and missed my midterm exam. It was a jellyfish that gave me this excruciating mark, which had hampered my dream of becoming a flight attendant. I’ve seen many people who were suffering and felt self-conscious about their scars. I've read numerous articles and comments on the internet about scars affecting people’s lives and how they dress. To conceal the scars, they would choose clothing that would cover them up. Although my jellyfish scar does not cause me to feel ashamed in the same way others do, I understand them. The scar affected my self-confidence on certain occasions, such as a flight attendant job interview. Visible scars affect me but so do the invisible scars left over from traumatic emotional experiences. The invisible scars may not leave marks on our skin but they may do us more harm than visible scars. The invisible scars may result from an emotional wound or a trauma that does not heal completely and may never heal. Instead of concealing and shaming our scars, I would like to encourage people to embrace their scars and see them as another type of memory, and as life experiences that mold us into the persons, we are today. Be kind to ourselves and learn to live with them.
A scar is a mark left on our skin after an injury. It might be flat, colored, sunken, or lumpy. It might be itchy or uncomfortable. I have realized that I shouldn't be ashamed of my scar and that I should be confident in my abilities. Scars do not determine our values; rather, they reflect our life experiences. It may sound easy to say, but difficult to do. In fact, it is possible and achievable. A scar is a survivor's mark that symbolizes our fortitude. It evokes images of suffering and pain and the desire to live. They will always be a part of our history.
Artist Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9C8fXVt-SI
Bio: Hannah Urquhart is an artist currently based in Edwardsville, IL. She is an undergraduate student at Southern Illinois University and is studying photography and studio art. She works in digital photography and black and white film. She makes work about feminism, mental health, and environmental issues. Her artwork has been shown in an online exhibition Divergence put together by her advanced photography class in fall 2019, and she had a weaving piece in the SIUE student juried show in spring 2022.
Project Statement: Isolation is a series of eight tableau photographs. The series is about physical and mental isolation during depression. While coming up with my idea for this series I thought about my own depression and how it manifests itself. I kept thinking about the days when my depression was at its worst and I don’t even end up leaving my room and I thought about the household items that surround me. In the series I photograph these household items with different individuals in outdoor locations. I made the series outdoors in remote areas because I wanted to further emphasis the feeling of severe isolation. Each photograph depicts an individual going through depression and isolating themselves from the world. They are not interacting with other people, but instead with these household items. For further inspiration for this series, I interviewed people and asked what their depression looked like. It is an interesting time to do this project since the whole world has been practicing isolating for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe more people can relate to feeling depressed because of having to isolate themselves from their family and friends. Many people are dealing with depression and are experiencing it in different ways. I am making work that shares my own experiences in hopes that people can relate and find solace in knowing others are going through similar things.
Artist Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh37MrFd6gk
Bio: Darren Bennett is a native of University City, Missouri, and has been learning how to take photos from the age of 14 from his mother. While dabbling in graphic design in school, he has studied photography at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville and is graduating with a bachelors degree in art and minor in art history. His day to day work focuses on advertisements, logos, brochures, magazines, and reports requiring general layouts and production design. While his photography reflects his love for landscapes and candid photography.
Project Statement: Nothing lasts indefinitely. Our lives will change in a matter of minutes, whether the changes are modest or significant. All of our goods are a mirage, as wonderful and compelling as they are, but ultimately a ghost that will vanish tomorrow. Everything will change, including our planet, our home, our family, and our health. Accepting this knowledge is difficult in a society when we assume there is a book, a pill, a bottle, or an app for every problem. It is difficult to let go of things we cannot change or prepare for.
These images were created as a result of visits to several areas in the Midwest at various times. Exploring these locations at these times allowed me to capture how nature affects the psyche and moments that go overlooked. The images serve as analogies for locations and events that convey a sense of stability and tranquility. It's an attempt to let go of photography perfectionism and be open to what I don't know, as well as its impermanence.
Artist Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LAAp2e8xeI
Bio: Kelly Gaines is a photographer based in Glen Carbon, IL. She has a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and an MBA specializing in project management. She has enjoyed photography since she was a kid and owned a camera when in grade school. She is drawn to work in nature, animals, architecture, and history. She enjoys having viewers see the many details that are small and/or overlooked – people can often pass by things and not notice how much things change over time.
Project Statement: My photographic series, History of Alton, compares present day images of the city of Alton with historical images of the city. When creating this project, I researched books, articles, newspapers, and websites to learn about the town and find photographs. Once I determined where the image was taken, I would take a photo at the exact same location. I then combined the photos in Photoshop to show the viewers what things have changed in that location and to create a haunted feeling. Often, I chose older photographs that included people, which created “ghosts” in the final images. I am interested in the last 100 years of history. This is because it is close enough to my lifetime that I can understand and relate to it the most. I can see how many things in the last couple of centuries directly shape how society is today – whether it is inventions, societal changes, nature, buildings, etc. Many people in this era have listened to stories from family and friends or are the ones who lived through it. Living near Alton, I knew it has a long history. This includes historical sites, people, and hauntings. This interest greatly influenced my motivation behind the project. I find it important to understand history as it shows you why things are the way they are today.
Artist Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwmBOBQmbrc