By La’Shance Perry
Dozens of smiling faces, and eager minds filled the Ogden Museum of Southern Art to admire and educate themselves on the history of photography and paintings in the region on Nov. 8, 2018. The Ogden Museum hosts a free family event day, four times a year, and the Ogden celebrated its 10th Anniversary of family day events this August. The family event this month showcased its newest exhibits and engaged residents with art activities through this month’s event-theme: “New Southern Photography.” The museum engaged both children and adults with activities for them to draw, color, and to create arts and crafts. The event also had a scavenger hunt to bring art to life.
“Free family day always has a theme connecting to something showing in the museum and one of the things we wanted to highlight is different types of photography processes,” said Ellen Balkin, the Education Manager at the Ogden. Balkin said that she wanted the families to take away a love and appreciation for art that they did not have.
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art focuses on art curated in the South and its current New Southern Photography Exhibition went on display on Oct. 6, 2018 and will remain available to the public through March 10, 2019. The exhibit is comprised of photography that is being practiced in the American South today. The collection is made up of 25 photographers that use different types of photography to convey an important message. The artists on display are emerging, mid-career, and established photographers and this is the largest exhibit the Ogden has had to date in this art form.
The event also hosted live demonstrations of different types of photography such as the use of the camera obscura and tintype. Tintype photos are images created on thin metal sheets that gained popularity in the 1800s. These types of photography are historical ways to capture images and are also featured in the new exhibit.
“It gives photographs a different look. It’s not like digital photography today where everything looks the same and you take hundreds of pictures and pick one. With this method you have to slow down, think about every aspect and work to get just one good picture,” said Bruce Schultz, a tintype photographer that uses the chemicals and methods of the 19th Century to create his images. Schultz works closely with civil war reenactments to recreate the photography of the time. “I want to convey a timeless aesthetic, something that will make people wonder if it was made now or a hundred years ago,” Schultz said.
Students from local high schools also participated in the free family day event. “Art is important because it allows us to express ourselves and come together as a community and art can tell a story as well as teach people not only about themselves but the things around them,” said 16-year-old Kyrielle Grillier.
Grillier is a student at Benjamin Franklin High School and is a member of the Ogden’s Teen Docent Program. The program partners with public school students to increase art exposure, develop leadership and critical thinking skills, and encourage students to share their talents. She has been a part of the program for two years and said that the program has helped her become a better artist and educated on the history of art.
Another student, Isaiah Carter, who, like Grillier, participates in the Teen Docent Program, also attended the event, and said he benefited from the learning through art. “It’s not always easy for children to grasp the importance of the piece they’re looking at, so I think being able to draw a connection for them between the activities and the art here gives a way to completely understand what goes into art and what makes art special and significant,” said Carter, 16, who also attends Ben Franklin High School. Carter, who said he has been interested in art since he was three, found that working with the Ogden has helped him to develop a hands-on understanding of creating art.
The Ogden is anticipating a lot of different events including another family day on Martin Luther King Day in January 2019 to showcase new exhibits coming to the museum. The Ogden is located at 925 Camp St. welcomes all ages to view the art and new opportunities to introduce young people to art in the community.
Participating in these events allows the students to learn more about art history and share their knowledge with kids younger than them. Each event teaches the students and locals different reasons to appreciate art. “What makes art special and significant is the peoples’ voices, specifically the voice of the artist behind the piece being able to recognize that voice and what they are trying to convey and why they think it is important – is special,” Carter said.