TRENTON – Generations of Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Visual Arts students, some separated by more than 35 years, came together under the roof of the college’s James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) for an exhibit showcasing the region’s home-grown talent.
“Everybody in the show got their start at Mercer,” said Ryann Casey, an adjunct professor of Art History and Photography at MCCC. “It really shows what Mercer can offer.”
Casey co-curated the show with JKCG director and curator Michael Chovan-Dalton, coordinator of the MCCC Photography program. She said the exhibit includes the works of 10 current and former MCCC Visual Arts students. A reception with the photographers was held Aug. 2; the show runs through Aug. 23.
“We have artists at all different levels – some are established artists, some are still students,” Casey said. “That’s what makes this show unique.”
Tim Dill, a 1980 graduate from Mercer, was one of the artists with work on display. He said the Photography program at MCCC has come a long ways since he was a student, now that digital has supplanted film and darkrooms as the preferred medium. He said about five years ago he made the transition to digital, and the exhibit was a great opportunity to showcase his work.
“This is a body of work I’m still working on, and it’s great to have an opportunity to show,” Dill said. “It’s good to get back into something I love to do.”
Regina Ritter, a current student at Mercer, took a different approach with the images she had on display. A recent medical condition has resulted in difficulty with her vision, which she portrays in her photographs – a oneness, a blending of light and color, as seen through her eyes.
“The trees, the sky, the clouds, they can all look the same,” Ritter said. “I may be able to see one, maybe two things. But we can learn, and we can grow by focusing on what we can see, and move forward.”
As part of her artist statement at the exhibit, Ritter also printed her information in braille as she wants the visually impaired to have the opportunity “to see and understand art” in their own way. She has plans to convert her images to textiles to improve accessibility to her images.
Lizzie Mayer, a 2017 graduate of MCCC, is currently working on her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at The College of New Jersey. The work she selected for display is a mix of media created both digitally and on film as she explores issues related to mental health, codependency, addiction, and recovery.
Mayer’s theme, as well as the many others on display, is indicative of the evolution of photography as an art form, according to Chovan-Dalton.
“Early on in its history, photography imitated this process as best it could with lighting, costume, and scenery but soon photographers began to embrace the more vernacular descriptions that the photographic process could offer,” Chovan-Dalton said.
Other photographers with work on display include Ramie Ahmed, John Labaw, Isaiah Mcrae, Julia Pfaar, Danielle Rackowski, Zac Santanello, and Grace Spencer. JKCG is located in MCCC's Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street, across the street from the James Kerney Building. Hours for this show are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about this and upcoming exhibits, visit www.mccc.edu/jkcgallery.