In some artistic circles, the question of whether or not photography is a fine art continues to be a philosophical argument. Even in the earliest days of photography, the mid-1800’s, some artists from the American Hudson River School of Art used photography to enhance their memory and record detail for their oil paintings. During that era, no one would have entered a photograph in a major exhibition of fine art.
But today, photography is an entirely different creature. It is available to nearly everyone, at every corner, and rarely is it questioned as an art form anymore. But what makes a recorded image art?
Some would argue that art is, quite simply, a form of communication. Therefore, if a smile from a young child you’ve never met makes you smile back, or a sun lit beach reminds you of a moment in your life, then that photograph has communicated with you.
Regardless of your philosophical approach to art, the photography exhibit currently on display in the Mary G. Burr Gallery at the Cheraw Community Center is a stunning, visual collection of images from near and far. The subjects include birds in flight, insects, orchids, local historical buildings, families from foreign countries, family weddings, Southern plantations, Japanese gardens, portraits and even abstract images that exist in nature.
Most of the exhibiting photographers are local residents; a few regularly exhibit their work with the Darlington County Photography Club. Some are professional photographers. For others, it’s simply what they do.
For Suzanne Muldrow, who retired from teaching elementary school in 2000, it’s now her “passion.” She didn’t really take up photography until after she retired. Yet many of her photos, requested by Chris Bridges of Wannamaker’s Drug Store, have been made into post cards, currently on sale there.
Morgan W. Davies, studied art in Ohio, and worked as a photo journalist there for a while. She is currently married to Mark Davies, director of the Cheraw State Park. Her work for the exhibit was done in 2001, while traveling in Moldova. For her, photography is all about capturing the essence of a singular moment in time, a record of real life, she said. “A subtle expression, or the softness of the morning light can make all the difference in the world as to whether or not a photograph works.” For her, the art of photography is in choosing,or capturing, that precise moment.
Other exhibiting photographers include Beth Maier, James C. Crawford, Margaret Reid, Susan Griggs, Robin Gibson, Anne Baldwin, Tish Hiteman, Linda Humphries, R.J. Suggs, Jim Fernandes, Dr. Mike Freeman, Diane Frick, Roger Fisher, Frederick Brooks, Lee Benoy, Meaghan Crawley, H. Anne Plettinger, John Moore and Mary Ann Godwin.
The exhibit, sponsored by the Cheraw Arts Commission, will remain on display until the end of May. Hours are 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Cheraw Arts Commission is sponsored in part by the Chesterfield County United Way and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at email@example.com.