Photography Collection Exhibited for Instruction, Outreach

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University will present Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography, an exhibition featuring 150 images from the last 100 years of photography. The exhibition opens on Friday, January 24, 2014 and runs through April 27, 2014. Outreach programs for campus and community, including films, researcher and artist talks, and a photography exhibition of Auburn students, are scheduled during the spring semester to coincide with what many art historians consider a preeminent fine art photography collection. Art News ranks Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla among the world’s top 10 photo collectors.

Uelsmann_Jerry_Untitled_web“This exhibition has a little bit of every kind of work that informed 20th century photographic practice,” said artist and co-curator Paul Karabinis. “The collectors are also quite interested in contemporary practice and supporting new talent in the medium.” Karabinis will spend time with Auburn students during his January visit and give a public talk on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the museum. “It’s always beneficial to introduce students to original works and not rely upon teaching the history of a medium through reproduction alone.” Karabinis said that nearly all the photographs in the exhibition were vintage prints; meaning, the print was made at or around the time the negative or image file was created and printed by, or under the direction, of the artist. “With vintage work, you get a glimpse of the individual printing style of each photographer. You also encounter the effects of time and handling, that patina of age, that makes us realize that works of art are not just images, but artifacts of a particular time and place.”

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, the exhibition was co-curated by Karabinis and Ben Thompson. Karabinis described how they overcame what appeared to be an initial challenge—the fact that the pair of collectors did not collect a specific style or type of photography.

“Celso Gonzalez-Falla called it a haunting quality that remains in his mind’s eye after seeing a photograph,” he said. “Sondra Gilman referenced the feeling as a poetic edge that draws her to certain works and leaves her with an unsettling feeling. They are charmed by that state of thought and wonder that begins with the simple visual facts and moves towards symbol and metaphor. This is the common thread that united the work.”

Chuck Hemard, an associate professor in the Department of Art at Auburn, said that the Sondra Gillman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection was really a college photography teacher’s dream collection, not only because of the work presented but because the exhibition is coming to Auburn versus a major art center hours away. “The collection represents an impressive variety and range of approaches to how photography can convey and express potent meanings,” he said. “To be an effective teacher, I feel an obligation to engage students with examples that represent a wide range of possibilities of what fine art photography is and can be. I love that its core seems to be resonate images by important artists. This is the part that students of art photography mustexperience, concepts that if I’m being honest, are most difficult to teach.” Hemard’s students will exhibit their photography at the museum in March.

In addition to guest lecturing, Karabinis will attend the opening reception and member preview on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Those interested in joining Auburn’s art museum and attending should click ‘join’ below or call Cindy Cox, membership officer at 334-844-3005. A schedule of benefits and values is available on the museum’s web site or by request from the museum office.
Above: Jerry N. Uelsmann (American, b. 1934), Untitled, 1996, gelatin-silver print, © Jerry N. Uelsmann

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