'Presence and Place' beautifully examines relationships between space and existence

The perception of physical space is defined as much by the place being examined as by the entities that are present within the space.

“Presence and Place,” Northlight Gallery’s latest ASU Student Photographers Association Annual Members Exhibition, examines this concept through the lens of widely diversified student photographers.

Photographers from all across the vivid creative landscape at ASU came together to showcase their shots under the jury of Tucson native Chris Colville, who preceded the exhibition with a public lecture about his work and inspirations, as well as one-on-one time with students to review their portfolios.

“I was inspired by the way Chris managed to find unity in the diverse works submitted by our members, which is how the other officers and I came up with the title, ‘Presence and Place,'” student photographer and ASU SPA officer Amanda Mollindo said.

The photographs chosen for the exhibition were given the freedom to speak for themselves by providing a space without a predetermined theme. According to student photographer Christine Beatty, the title was given to the exhibition after the images had been chosen, which meant that each student’s work “did not have to conform to a predetermined idea.”

"Presence and Place" will be on display at Northlight Gallery on the ASU Tempe campus until April 25. More information on the exhibit can be found here.

“Even though the themes are separated in the gallery, they intermingle in a very interesting way that begs the viewer to think about the way presence and place blend together between human and environment,” Beatty added.

Each photograph is remarkably different from its neighbor, but each speaks to a unique expression of physical presence and space that seems to create a collective insight into the theme as a whole.

For instance, a mixed-media work of a male figure is displayed near a photograph of silky crimson sheets, but both take the viewer into a place of inquiry in a way that works surprisingly well together.

“There were images that evoked a sense of nostalgia or the comfort of home and some that made you question the places you were seeing or feel uncomfortable with the image,” photographer Gwendolyn Davies said. “The images in both rooms showcase the individual aesthetic of each artist while seeming to fit comfortably with the others in the show.”

Davies displayed a photo that she said captured the American West in an iconic and truthful manner. She said the image "captured the harshness of the modern western landscape" and included a broken cart that she felt symbolized "something forgotten, lost and broken."

"In many ways, that is how I see this American West that we live in today," she added.

Yuma native Mollindo took a slightly different approach to her selection process, choosing two images that portrayed glimpses into her personal life without necessarily forming a cohesive set.

Mollindo felt her two works, "Ocean-To-Ocean Bridge, Yuma AZ" and "Rocko's Pool," were powerful as individual images outside of a collective set. Although aesthetically and thematically different, both photographs provide personalized perspectives of Mollindo's hometown and familial perceptions.

Beatty's work added yet another dimension of artistic vulnerability to the show with "Brighter," an intriguing reflection of distorted space and an exposed presence.

The work of photographer Allison Warth also brought a new sense of introspection and emotion to the exhibition by showcasing a male subject with his own story within the greater context of the photo. 

Warth said she feels her work truly reflects the theme of presence and place by showing the subject "in his past while also being exhibited in his current presence."

Ultimately, the exhibition showed the power of raw photography to produce a meaningful juxtaposition between complete diversity and collective artistry. It is yet another reminder of the expansive pool of magnificent talent to be found at ASU.

Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or on Twitter @lina_lauren.

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