By Esther Lee–
Use the double doors in Schneider Hall to enter the Hite Art Galleries. Walk past the construction of the next hosted exhibition. Ignore the blank walls, plastic wraps and tables with tools. Come into the gallery around the corner. Welcome to the Museum of Memory.
Museum of Memory is an exhibition featuring the pinhole photography of Jesseca Ferguson. According to the biography posted next to her pieces, “Her pinhole photographs and collaged “photo objects’”have been included in solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe.” Museums all around the world including Paris, France; Krakow, Poland; Cambridge, MA and Boston, MA have displayed her works.
Ferguson used a pinhole camera for her photography. A pinhole camera is a very simplistic camera that does not use lens. “It’s any cylinder that the inside is painted black.” Renee K. Murphy, program assistant of the Department of Fine Arts, explained. “It can be made out of an oatmeal container.”
By using this simple camera, Ferguson was able to successfully exploit the softness in her photographs. “There has been an increased interest in pinhole photography,” John Begley, gallery director, explained. “As technology moves forward, artists also explore the alternative media of the past because of the means of expression.”
Inside the gallery room, over 20 framed photographs sought individual, undivided attention.
In the middle of the room, the gallery displayed Altered Book: The Little White Bird on a stand and under a clear case. I wondered what was so special about this piece because it was just a bird picture glued in a book. I skimmed through the page of the book until a few lines stood out. “The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” A connection was made. This was just the beginning of many connections that were waiting to be explored.
In some of her works such as Bird/bones/spiral (constructed) and French head/box (constructed), Ferguson plastered her photographs onto strategically torn and aged books covers which gave antique feels to the overall works. These particular pieces reminded me of tattered, 100 year-old books that were falling apart found in the Rare Book Collection at the Ekstrom Library. “I love the sense of balance, structure and texture.” Jamie King, an undecided major, age 19, explained. “It almost reminds me of textiles. She incorporates the photos in its position.” Also, by using book covers, this technique presented a layer of texture, which added dimension.
Although Ferguson’s works were photographs, she never failed to incorporate some sort of text in the frame. Sometimes the texts were passages from book that forced the viewer to squint their eyes to read and others were very simple. The Moon (constructed) showed a picture of a moon and on the bottom of the photograph was the words “The Moon”. This brought about an understanding and connection of her works that cannot be expressed with a lack of visual or textual. Also interestingly, Ferguson seemed to take her photographs at an eye-level and angled perspective giving a micro-scale effect.
According to the artist, “my work is a slow, hand-built and cumulative, rather like the layering of dust or memories over time.”
The Museum of Memory will be held at the Hite until September 30. There will also be a reception held in honor of the gallery on September 18 from 4:40 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy Louisville.edu