Off the Page: Chuck Arlund, Jerry Atnip, Nick Dantona, Robert McCurley, Jerry Park, Mark Mosrie, and Rick Smith
Today finishes our celebration of SlowExposures…
As part of the jurying experience for SlowExposures this year, both Aline and I were invited to give talks; mine was called “In Words and Pictures” and was about looking at the “relationship between text and images”—as a means for giving context and meaning to photographic sequences.” One of the joys of being at SlowExposures is seeing the exhibits and pop-up shows that become part of the landscape of Pike County, if only for two weeks. Two of the pop-up shows this year explored, much to my surprise and delight, the interplay between text and photographs in very different and unusual ways. The Posse (Anne Berry, Ann George, Bryce Lankard, S. Gayle Stevens, and Lori Vrba) put together a show called Time, Place, and Eternity: Flannery O’Connor and the Craft of Photography, which combined photography and installation with quotes from O’Connor’s writings that were handwritten in blank books and then nailed to barn walls with handmade iron nails.
The other show, Off the Page, was comprised of images by another posse, the Southlight Salon of Nashville—Jerry Atnip, Nick Dantona, Robert McCurley, Jerry Park, Mark Mosrie, Rick Smith, and Chuck Arlund. Each photographer took a page from William Gay’s novel Southern Provinces of Night and made images inspired by the passages on their respective pages. Forty-two images (and the words that inspired the photographs) were hung on the walls of a U-Haul truck. Taken together, the show created a compelling cinema of masculine energies. I studied each photo, read each text, and put the pictures together in a story that I told myself, having walked up the ramp and into the show without first reading the explanatory text. The drive to create a narrative from the quietest invitation is something so basic: The pictures, with their elliptical, mysterious captions, actively inspired me to think about what was being said and shown. Who were these characters, where did they live, what happened to them? The photographers so successfully created a collaborative novel-movie that I have kept thinking about the show and pondering ideas of how we look at and interpret perspectives that are male or southern or both.
Off the Page
The idea for this project came from Salon member Jerry Atnip, who teaches a Fine Art Photography class at an art school in Nashville. In an effort to stimulate his students, he photocopied pages from a novel and gave each student one page. Their assignment: create an image based on or inspired by a sentence, phrase or word on their page. The resulting work, which Jerry shared with the Salon, was wonderful and showed the students’ creativity, originality and fearlessness. Upon seeing these images, the Salon members decided to make this one of their monthly assignments to see if they could create work with the same freshness as Jerry’s students. A book was chosen, William Gay’s distinctly Southern Provinces of Night, and seven pages were distributed, one to each member. The resulting work was something of a mixed bag, with some members electing to re-shoot their images and others quite happy with what they shot. The one thing that everyone agreed on, however, was how much fun the assignment had been. With that, it was unanimously decided to make this a long-term project, with each member getting a total of six different pages. The project stretched to over a year as members struggled with how to interpret their pages, some of which seemed to provide little or no inspiration. This gallery represents the results of the Salon’s efforts: forty-two images, each born from a single, randomly selected page from Provinces of Night.– Exhibition curated by Rick Guthrie
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