Photo exhibit shows women's advancement, diversity

10-23-08 Photo exhibit
Photography senior Desiree Evans hangs title cards for prints in the “Diverging Views” exhibit of the Women’s Caucus of the Society for Photographic Education on Thursday at Northlight Gallery. (Chaunte Johnson/The State Press)
Published On:
Friday, October 24, 2008
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For the past week, the pounding of hammers has echoed through ASU’s Northlight Gallery as its latest photography exhibit, “Diverging Views,” comes slowly into focus.

The gallery in Tempe’s Matthews Hall, dedicated to photography, has hosted two caucuses from the Society for Photographic Education. The first, the Multicultural Caucus, displayed artists from different backgrounds and highlighted regional, national and international contexts.

The current exhibit features 11 artists from the Women’s Caucus. It focuses on the advancement of women in the photographic profession, striving to present women’s issues, discussion and teaching. While currently open to the public, the exhibit’s official reception is Monday at 7 p.m.

Liz Allen, the gallery director and chair of the Women’s Caucus, said the organization provides an informal opportunity for women to share photographic knowledge and network, linking students working on specific projects to interested faculty.

Allen worked with art professor Betsy Fahlman to select artists for the exhibit. The main goal was to provide the Women’s Caucus with an exhibition venue, but Allen said the amount of diversity in the works surprised her.

“It succeeded in showing a diverse group of artists, but that wasn’t necessarily the purpose,” she said. “We didn’t want to force that onto the work.”

The exhibit displays faculty, graduate and undergraduate students’ work. Allen said artists were selected for the quality of their work, not an arbitrary theme or specific focus.

Photographs range from pictures of children growing up to narrative pieces.

Featured artist Dana West assembled images from all parts of the U.S. in a series of photos she intended to invoke memories and nostalgia.

“My definition of photography isn’t just prints on the wall,” Allen said. “It’s photo related.”

She often integrates mixed media, three-dimensional art and films into her galleries.

Several artists in the gallery use unconventional means of image production. The gallery contains prints made from light exposure through a pinhole in cardboard, much like the amateur technique used for viewing solar eclipses, then marked on and touched up digitally.

Northlight Gallery began to compile a collection of historical techniques from the 1800s and 1900s photographic processes in the ’70s.

The gallery, along with ASU’s photography programs, provides a “teaching laboratory” with hands-on experience, Allen said.

Students enrolled in photo exhibition prepare works for display and design the gallery’s layout. They make decisions regarding sightlines and placement of work, trying to spur interaction between works related to a certain style or issue. This involves heavy interpretation of the part of the students, Allen said.

Photography senior Desiree Evans works in the gallery. She and other students put together every display.

Originally a business student, Evans said she switched to photography to pursue her passions.

“We just get to go through all the work: set things up take things down,” Evans said. “I love it. I don’t want to do fine art — probably editing — but this class is a lot of fun.”

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