The Vault Gallery in Newnan opened the “Infinite Weight: Present Histories” exhibition on Oct. 7, displaying photography from across the States. UWG’s Senior Lecturer of Art, Stephanie Smith, manages the Newnan exhibition hall and invited Hallie Ringle, the Chief Curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art for the University of Pennsylvania, to curate the month-long event.
“We had a great reception last Friday,” said Smith. “We had a great turnout of about 50 or so people. Especially since it was during fall break. A bunch of students came, a bunch of faculty and the local Newnan community.”
Located in Wadsworth Auditorium, the Vault Gallery is owned by the city of Newnan and lent to UWG to exhibit photography, traditional art and other art forms hosted or created through UWG’s Visual Arts program.
The featured photographers in this exhibit live in all corners of the U.S., including Southern residents from Florida to Mississippi, Northern residents from Michigan to New York, and from the midwest, including Kansas to even further West in California.
“Two of [the artists] live in Georgia and came, which was really cool,” said Smith. “They talked a little bit about their work that was selected.”
“Infinite Weight” is a juried photography exhibition, meaning that UWG elected Ringle to select works and essentially organize the show according to the broad theme.
“She flew in and gave a talk about the show,” said Smith. “She was there to talk about her selection process.”
The prompt of the exhibition is solely the title “Infinite Weight: Present Histories,” which encouraged works embodying the concept in overt or ambiguous ways. Naturally, the entries shared similar traits, with many depicting abandoned places, historic landmarks and the cosmos in regards to space, history and places.
“[Ringle] curates a lot of exhibitions and looks at a lot of art, and since the pandemic, she’s seen a lot of artists addressing that experience and making work about that,” said Smith. “She was pleasantly surprised at this. When she started crafting the show and picking works that spoke to one another, the works she picked really don’t do that. She felt that [the ones she selected] were sort of a more joyous nature. They do address place, location, space— but then we have two photos in there of really close up shots of mice, so it’s a good variety of images.”
The featured photographs capture sentiments surrounding history and the environment. Every photo evokes an awareness of spacetime through the many expansive landscapes, ordinary people and small creatures.
“There’s one set of photographs that use this ancient technique. They remind me of Dutch still life paintings of fruit and flowers,” said Smith. “They are playing off a historical genre, but they are kind of decimated fruit. They sort of look a bit post-apocalyptic.
“[The exhibition] was a range [of styles],” Smith continued. “From some black and white photography, we have two videos that were accepted that were playing in the gallery. There are some techniques called palladium prints— There’s a cyanotype. So we have traditional processes and then really contemporary, like digital and video.”
Many techniques and creative art decisions individualize each piece, yet the theme strings them all together.
“Infinite Weight” ends Nov. 3, so until then, UWG students and the community are invited to see the free exhibition Thursdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“This is the first juried exhibition that we’ve ever organized,” said Smith. “For [photography professors] Mark Schoon and John Morris, this was a dream of theirs to bring this level of contemporary photography to West Georgia.”