Tag Archives: art

‘Centennial Faces’ shines light on African-American portraits, history

By Claudia Carlson

Staff Writer

A traveling exhibit from the Museum of Florida History has found a temporary home at the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum until late April.

The “Centennial Faces” exhibit showcases photographs of African-Americans living in Tallahassee around 1885-1910 by Alvan S. Harper. Each of the 49 portraits in the exhibit was shot with a glass plate negative. This technique shows exquisite detail in the portraits. Only a fraction of the 2,000 photographs originally taken are featured in the exhibit.

African-Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s were prominently subjected to a life of slavery. What makes Harper’s portraits so unique is that they show just the opposite. In his portraits, you will see African-Americans dressed in remarkable clothing that signifies an affluent lifestyle.

According to an information booklet at the exhibit: “The subjects of his pictures are well-to-do or are from the upper-middle class. They are dressed in beautiful, ornate dresses or fine, carefully fitted sober attire. Their faces shine with dignity, self-reliance, and optimism. Even during the period of slavery, there had been a small number of African-Americans who had made it through the social and economic barriers erected by that system to a certain measure of prosperity. They seem far away from the hardships known to have existed among the great majority of African-Americans who lived in Tallahassee during this period.”

The exhibit is set up in such a way that the viewer can appreciate all the photographs. There is not much else in the room, there are no distractions, so visitors are able to use give it their full attention and get to know the people in the portraits.

When a visitor enters the exhibit, a laminated book relays all the information about the exhibit and Harper himself. There are also printouts that visitors may take around the room that give details about each portrait.

In the middle of the exhibit are also photocopies of The Colored Citizen, a newspaper published in Pensacola from 1914 until the late 1950s. The T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum incorporated this into the exhibit to add an element of local Pensacola history. The University of West Florida Historic Trust Archives has 44 copies of the newspaper in its files, and the John C. Pace Library West Florida History Center has seven copies.

“We do a lot of Florida-based exhibits at the museum,” said Wanda Edwards, chief curator. “One of the nice components we have added to the exhibit are the newspapers from the African-American community to show turn-of-the century information that happened in Pensacola.”

The exhibit will be at the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum until April 25, and UWF students get free admission by showing a student ID.

For more information on the museum, including hours and directions, visit the Historic Pensacola website.

 

Professor Jim Jipson shines at his opening showcase

By Sydney O’Gwynn

Staff Writer

jim

Jim Jipson says his new solo exhibition, “My Endless Quest for the Chthonic,” is about discovery and digging his way through the darkness.
Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

 

Jim Jipson had the opening ceremony for his exhibition, “My Endless Quest for the Chthonic,” at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, in The Art Gallery in the University of West Florida Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Jipson is a professor in the Department of Art at UWF, teaching photography and art history courses. His showcase is part of his Rites of Passage process to become a full-time art professor at the university.

Jipson, a Detroit native, learned how to draw from his father and grandfather, both of whom drew models of cars for companies such as Ford. Jipson got his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit and his master’s from Michigan State University in East Lansing in drawing and printmaking. Jipson took on photography as a side job about 20 years ago and hasn’t looked back.

The artwork in this particular showcase features digital photographs taken with a device Jipson invented himself.

“I invented a projector that you can actually put three-dimensional objects inside the projector and it projects them out onto a screen,” he said.

Jipson said he sets up his camera on a tripod and photographs the objects through the screen on the projector. He said he also has fans attached to the projector so the objects are constantly moving.

“There’s a discovery element to it that regular photography doesn’t give me, so I like that,” he said. “I can’t wait to see it because I don’t know exactly what I’ve taken a photograph of.”

Jipson said the objects in the pictures are more-or-less everyday items.

“Most of the objects are objects I find,” he said. “They are discarded objects that we don’t pay any attention to.”

Jipson said he wanted to use these items to make a point that even the simplest idea can be made beautiful.

“If they can enjoy a discarded leaf, twig and berry, then they can really enjoy the rest of the world,” Jipson said. “We have a tendency to only look for the Maserati, and we don’t care about the Volkswagen.”

Jipson also answered the question of what “Chthonic” is. He said the term came from a critic reviewing one of his pieces that was featured in a show at the Florida Museum of Art.

“I didn’t know what it meant, so I literally had to turn on my computer and look and see what it was,” Jipson said. He said the technical definition is from literature wherein the Greeks and Romans explore the underworld, and he said he liked that idea because his artwork is about discovery and digging his way through the darkness.

“The whole thing is trying to get other people to enjoy and discover things and for me to enjoy and discover things,” he said.

Nick Croghan, the director of The Art Gallery, said he thought Jipson’s pieces of artwork were exploring the contrast of light and dark.

“They remind me a lot of what it would be like to be inside of a camera,” Croghan said.

Croghan also said he believes it is important for a professor of the university to have his work showcased.

“Just as a writer is tasked with making sure to be published, an instructor of art is always tasked with continually producing and showing their work,” Croghan said.

Junior art major Wolfy Howell, who said she had taken a class taught by Jipson, said she enjoyed the artwork.

“It’s definitely really intriguing and brings your mind to different places,” she said.

Howell also said she liked being able to see a professor’s work on display because she said it is a nice reference tool for art students who want to submit their work for display.

“That gives us a better idea of what they’re expecting,” Howell said. “It helps prepare us for what happens when we’re not in school anymore.”

Jipson said for this showcase he went through about 400 pictures, but had no trouble finding the right ones to choose.

“It’s really not difficult,” he said. “They, sort of, scream out and say, ‘We’re going to be interesting.’”

Jipson also said he finds that the greatest mystery of his artwork is seeing the object and forming an idea of what the image will look like only to be surprised.

“Even doing it for six years, I don’t know what the photograph is going to look like when it’s done,” he said.

As for his future plans, Jipson said he’s only looking forward.

“I can’t stop,” he said. “It’s in my blood at this point.”

The exhibit will run through Feb. 5, when he will deliver a lecture as part of the UWF Rite of Passage Lecture Series at 2 p.m.

For more information on Jipson and to view some of his work visit his website.

UWF’s Art Gallery presents works of graduating seniors in ‘Synthesis’ exhibit

Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

On Thursday, a new arts showcase took up residency in The Art Gallery (TAG) in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The “Synthesis” exhibit is a collection of artwork by six graduating seniors in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at UWF. This selective program is one for which students must apply and be accepted.

For these students — Andrew Adamson, Kenneth Jordan, Evan Glenny, Elizabeth Guerry, Abigail Harrell and Colleen Jennings — this is a finale of sorts to their artistic career at UWF. “They typically have two years to create a body of work that is essentially their thesis,” said Gallery Director Nicholas Krogin. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch them begin from sophomore level. I’ve had the chance talk about their ideas and their concepts, and what the best way to communicate their ideas is.”

The graduating seniors come from various backgrounds, and each brought unique perspectives to the exhibit. Jordan said it was his desire to “bring back poetry through the visual materialization of psychological isolation and desensitization of sensuality.” He did this through elaborate oil paintings that grace the walls of TAG. Adamson used ceramics in his works that he described as “ambiguous narratives based on past experiences.” Jennings tackled issues of the environment with her exhibit “Products That Ruined the World.”

After working for more than a year on their artwork, it’s no surprise that the artists are passionate about their work. Gurry used her section of the exhibition as a tribute to a grandparent and how dementia has impacted her family; hence the title of her project, “Nana.” She created drawings that represented memories in the human brain.

Harrell’s exhibit, entitled “Made Up,” is project that focuses on makeup usage and the societal beauty standards for women. She was photographed numerous times with varying degrees of makeup in order to show the different standards of beauty that exist in society. “I wanted to do a project based on how people perceive me. I believe that people have different definitions of the word beauty. It’s different for every culture.” Harrell said. “I wanted to emphasize that, because people put too much emphasize on how they look.”

Glenny used her piece of the gallery, “Moist Fur,” to discuss concepts of gender, sexuality, brutality, and discomfort in a way that grasps the viewers’ attention. “I am transgender, and I’ve been struggling with that for a long time, and I don’t typically do personal work. It’s autobiographic for me, and I hope it goes well.” Glenny also said that the characters and imagery were chosen “because of their relationship with aggression, masculinity and the artificial selection that has rendered them all functionally impotent.”

Overall the gallery gives the seniors a chance to shine and to show off some of the hard work they’ve put into the art program. Thursday’s reception was the opening of the exhibit and had strong attendance.

The gallery also was the subject of praise from those who saw it. “I’ve never been to an art gallery, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s really incredible,” student Kelsey Lee said.

“It’s really intense in here. There’s a lot to take in,” said student Sara Omlor.

“There’s a lot of variety,” said student Courtney Dwhitworth. “We see our own work within the classroom setting, but to see everyone’s work together in the gallery is very cool.”

The “Synthesis” exhibit will be on display until Dec. 12 at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. For more information about TAG, visit the website or the gallery’s blog.