Arrangement of Photos for Off Topic

Beyond the Gallery

Off Topic is a very eclectic show. There is a great deal of variety within the subject matter of the 100+ images we sorted through and as the curator it was my job to build a narrative and bring some cohesion to the images.

Graphic of photos on wall in gallery

Photograph of printed images hung in PL130 Gallery for Off Topic exhibition

Looking specifically at the section of the gallery, captured above, it is built out around the central image featuring the Nike statue titled Vestals by Linda Johnson.

Photograph of Nike statue and person peeking out of window

Vestals, Linda Johnson

The photograph in itself is ironic in that it captures a statue with its head cut off while to the right there is a person’s head peeking out from the corner of a window. When considering what would look interesting with this image, I was pleasantly surprised when I found compositional similarities between it and the image titled John The Baptist by Laurence Kesterson.

Photograph taken of counter inside a convenience store

John The Baptist, Laurence Kesterson

This image captures a person standing behind a store counter with their head just out of the frame while a manikin head sits on the counter. The presence of a decapitated body along with a floating head is something that is evident in both Vestals and John The Baptist making them work well together. I was also drawn to hang the photograph titled Swimmer 2 by Jay Gorodetzer along with Vestals and John The Baptist.

Photograph taken from above looking at swimmer coming out of a pool

Swimmer 2, Jay Gorodetzer

Swimmer 2 focuses on a human head as well just in a different way. The line in the water also proved to be a nice element that helped draw viewers' eyes up to the central image which ties the wall together. Once I had this grouping of three, I continued to sort through the images to see what else would work well on this wall. I found Angels Among Us by Laurence Kesterson, which captures a street scene full of people, seemed to fit.

Photograph of cross walk with people moving in different directions

Angels Among Us, Laurence Kesterson

There is a woman in the foreground walking through the frame which reminded me of the boy walking through the frame in John The Baptist. Both people in each image are walking in the same direction and are a bit blurry since they are not the main focus. Not only is there a connection between Angels Among Us and John The Baptist, but also between Angels Among Us and Vestals. The focus of Angels Among Us is a person in the background wearing white angel wings. The texture of the wings is prominent and is similar to the texture of the Nike statue in Vestals. Continuing with this theme of dominant textures on a white surface, I was drawn to include the photo titled Nurture by Rebecca Barger that captures an up close view of a horse's mane.

Up close photograph of horse's mane

Nurture by Rebecca Barger

I felt the white horse hair complimented the Nike statue and angel wings, bringing a sense of cohesion between these images. Since Nurture was the only up close image I had chosen for that wall so far, I was inspired to include Vicki Valerio’s image titled Place Setting.

Up close photograph of a place setting looking through a glass

Place Setting, Vicki Valerio

Both images focus on the details and patterns within the objects while leaving out any of the surrounding environment, introducing a whole new theme to the wall. When looking closely at Place Setting, it is not a true black and white image, which led me to hunt for another image that had a similar color quality. Backstage by Michael Mercanti, seemed to match nicely with the slightly off-white and black color. 

Photograph of dressed up woman walking backstage as security person watches her walk by

Backstage, Michael Mercanti

I also felt it mimicked Angels Among Us and John The Baptist in that it captured a person walking through the frame just from a different perspective. 

Even though I arranged these photos in this way, does not mean that there aren’t other approaches or connections that can be made between the photographs. My goal was to guide viewers through the show so they are not only inspired by the individual photographs, but also by how each image relates to the others near it, making the show look and feel more intentional than just a cluster of randomly placed photos on a wall.

Lauren Mitchell, curator of Off Topic


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