Students, faculty and members of the Springfield community quietly milled around the Brick City Gallery Friday evening, soaking up the fine art photography at the gallery’s latest exhibit reception.
The exhibit, “Take it From Here,” showcases the work of 10 young fine art photographers from across the United States.
University of Arkansas professors and spouses, Zora Murff and Rana Young, curated the show and were excited about the number of those in attendance at the reception.
“We are genuinely impressed with the turnout and the enthusiasm for contemporary photography in Springfield,” Young said. “It’s really refreshing to see, and we feel very much supported here, like we were home.”
In the spring of last year, Murff led a bookmaking workshop at Brick City, which would lead to the exhibit’s existence.
Brick City’s then-gallery director asked Murff if he would be interested in showing his work in the gallery in the future.
Just under a year later, the couple was able to secure an exhibition date with the gallery.
“It was this option,” Murff said. “I could have a solo show. Rana could have a solo show, but for us, it’s more important to find ways to give back to our community at large and other people who are doing really hard, great work.”
In one area of the gallery, Murff and Young created a collaborative space of their own work, titled, “Talking Back: Rana Young and Zora Murff,” but they were enthusiastic to showcase a collection of pieces by some of their favorite photographers on the rise.
The majority of the photographers chosen for the show were artists Murff and Young knew personally, but a few were some the two had on their radar, Murff said.
“We both just bought a group of names to the table and looked at work and started to figure out whose work had nice overlaps and that (spoke) to each other,” Murff said.
The 10 photographers, from six different states, include Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Widline Cadet, Jasmine Clarke, Paul Guilmoth, Kathryn Harrison, Elizabeth Hibbard, Tommy Kha, Alec Kaus, Nadiya Nacorda and Lindley Warren Mickunas.
Paul Guilmoth, who currently lives in Leeds, Mass., said his relationship with Murff and Young began via social media over a year ago and when the two reached out to him about the exhibit, he was thrilled.
Three of Guilmoth’s photographs from his second most recent body of work, “Dripping Night”, are showcased in the exhibit.
“The work is about fiction, myths and symbols rooted within the New England landscape,” Guilmoth said.
Santa Cruz, Calif. based photographer, Elizabeth Hibbard said Murff and Young contacted her in November, hoping she would participate in the exhibition.
“I was and am really honored,” Hibbard said. “I haven't had the opportunity to exhibit my work in many shows yet, let alone alongside such an impressive list of artists that I admire so much.”
Murff and Young chose three of Hibbard’s photographs from her series, “Swallow the Tail,” which centers around home and family.
“The opportunity to see how young and emerging fine art photographers are engaging with the medium is important because we have a unique perspective in regards to all of the significant shifts and permutations photography has already undergone over the course of our lives,” Hibbard said.
The exhibition attracted a variety of members from the community, including a number of MSU art students.
Junior photography major Kevin Jolley stopped in to experience the exhibit before the reception but returned Friday night to view it once again.
“(I) loved it,” Jolley said. “I enjoy the concept of a seemingly conceptless photo show, where there isn’t a super strong central theme and the photographers show their individual strengths.”
“Take it From Here” opened Jan. 27 and will be up for viewing until Saturday, Feb. 22.
“Living in a smaller college town ourselves, we know that an influx of contemporary art is rare and often not a place you consider seeing contemporary art, photography especially, and we wanted to be able to bring some of that to a town that doesn’t see it as often as some of the other cities,” Young said.
Brick City Gallery’s next exhibition, “Textiles: A Social Media,” opens Friday, March 6.