Aurora PhotoCenter Brings Opportunities for Photography

L to R: Installation view of [hyphen] American, Self Portrait as a Ghost by Amelia Morris, Image from The Mall by Jay Turner Frey Seawell

2019 Photography Developments for Indy

This year a number of different things came together in a confluence of good for photography in Indianapolis. I was introduced to Mary Goodwin and the Aurora PhotoCenter (APC). In its inaugural year, the APC conducted a number of events, first of all being the workshop held at the Indianapolis gallery space, Tube Factory at Big Car. Keliy Anderson-Staley held a tintype workshop and individual portrait sessions. I sat to have my portrait made, and watched as other portraits were made and observed the process Anderson-Staley took to prepare the tintype plates, expose the plate with a person or small group of people sitting for exposures; commonly in the neighborhood of 10 seconds. This is an eternity compared to the ability of a person to snap and post a photo on Instagram in less time than it takes for Anderson-Staley to make one exposure. It is a beautiful process and resulting image transported me back to first time I ever saw a photographic image developing the darkroom. Pure magic.

I sat down that same morning with Mary Goodwin and had a discussion about how the APC came into being and she gave me a tour of the gallery. Mary has previously served as Associate Director at Light Work in Syracuse, NY, and she actively contributes to photo events and workshops around the country, and she is the founder and publisher of photo books at Waltz Books. She hopes to incorporate some of the same purpose in Indy that Light Work serves to its home community. We discussed the first exhibition the center hosted: [hyphen] American by Keliy Anderson-Staley. The exhibition was in tandem with a tintype workshop and portrait sessions. Keliy’s growing collection of tintype portraits in the project, mine included, would be exhibited along with historic tintype photos from the Indiana State Museum collection. The main focus of the exhibition showcased portraits made during her stop in Indianapolis in June 2019, as well as subjects photographed in other American cities from New York to Cleveland to San Francisco. 

After Mary and I spoke for a while, we were joined by another of the APC founders, Adam Reynolds and the discussion moved into the direction the center would take for exhibitions in the coming year.  The third founder of APC is Craig McCormick. Craig is an architect and photographer and is a Principal at Blackline Studio for Architecture, founder of procurement and maker company Co+Effect, and creator of MarshallStudios.net. Craig is active in the photography scene in Indianapolis, and boards for arts organizations including Harrison Center for the Arts, Big Car, and Pattern. 

The second exhibition hosted by the center was also held at Tube Factory from Nov 1st to Nov 22nd 2019.  Respecting POTUS & National Trust was an exhibition that featured work by Andrew Miller,  whose interiors, architecture, and portraiture explores the intersection of people and politics that is found in the urban environment. The other images in the show were by Jay Turner Frey Seawell who explores appearances and perceptions of historical structures to political spectacles and media culture, and they are all inextricably tied to superficial appearances and perceptions.

The third exhibition hosted by APC in 2019 was Is Everyday Extraordinary? A Photography Show. This exhibition was hosted in partnership with Indianapolis art venue, Gallery 924 for the month of November  as well. Is Everyday Extraordinary? was billed as an exhibition that celebrates photography’s power to extract the extraordinary from everyday moments. The show featured work by photographers based in central Indiana, and work from about three dozen photographers was shown. I’ve shown work in gallery exhibitions only a handful of times in the past ten years; as online exhibitions are the norm now. It was great to view the work in that setting and talk with other photographers in the show. One of my professors from college, Mark Sawrie, had several pieces in the show as well. It is always an honor to be included in an exhibition alongside work made by the people who I learned from.

Acquiesce by Mark Sawrie

It’s difficult to stop myself from coming up with some optimistic statement on the outlook for photography in the coming year. What does 2020 hold for Indianapolis and the midwest in general? I have felt for a while that serious events and meaningful work gets created somewhere else; and if it starts out in the squishy areas of the midwest, it quickly heads for someplace like Chicago, Cincinnati, Madison, Detroit, or Kansas City. If the author John Green can develop an affection, dare I say pride, for Indy, then who am I to argue? Great work can come from here and maybe it just takes enough people to speak it into recognition. I will write more soon about the work of Keliy Anderson-Staley and her book, On a Wet Bough.  Let’s all start talking more about photography. Let’s have meaningful dialog and share the work we create.

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