One cannot be an artist in isolation. This is the outlook of USC photography professor Kathleen Robbins and the students of her program. “In order to make work you have to have a dialogue, you have to be able to talk to people about it. People have to see it. If you’re wanting to be a professional artist or someone who participates in the art world, then you have to be a part of an active community, and so part of that is not just participating in the arts community but also giving back.” She feels that it is necessary for students to support each other and show their work. She wants them to be active in the arts community so they can thrive as artists. Art is meant to be shared.
Every year the hardworking students of University of South Carolina’s photography program hold an exhibit to share photography pieces they have been working on over the course of two years. The show is entitled “Upon Further Reflection” a name conceived of and agreed upon by the students themselves. It is about wanting people to take the time to reflect upon the content and substance of their art, and also about moving forward. For most of the students this is a very contemplative time in their lives, with graduation fast approaching. They hope that the viewer reflects upon their work but they are also reflecting on their own lives and experiences.
There is no theme to the show. Each piece is unique to the individual student. Each of them with their own style and story, often taking their own experiences and channeling them into their art to be expressed in a format that can be enjoyed by the community.
Robbins explains how the photography world has grown into something much different than when she was a student, how there is much more opportunity for photographers to make themselves known than there was possible in years past. “Well for one the students have to be incredibly brave.” explains Robbins, “They are exposed to a certain amount of visibility and criticism that wasn’t even imaginable when I was in school. Several of them are experiencing a pretty considerable amount of success at a young stage in their career. They’re getting exposure on the internet for one and on really renowned blogs and so people are familiar with their work outside of the university in a way that wasn’t possible when I was in school.” She feels that these experiences are teaching them how to navigate their careers as artists.
That’s what she hopes they take away. She hopes they they keep with them the skill-set they need to function as professional artists, the ability to collaborate and stay active with the arts community. She wants them to continue to use the knowledge she’s given them and find happiness through it. “As long as they’re still making photos, that’s enough for me.” she says, “I hope that years down the line they haven’t lost sight of why they do it.”
“Upon Further Reflection” will be held Friday May 1st from 5pm- 8pm at Vista Studio- Gallery, 80808 Lady St.