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MCCC’s James Kerney Campus Gallery Presents Photographer Patrice Helmar’s ‘Dirty Old Town’ Oct. 16 to Nov. 13; Reception and Talk Oct. 24


Patrice Helmar's "Dirty Old Town" depicts landscapes and people in and around Juneau, Alaska.

Trenton, N.J. – Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) presentsDirty Old Town,” an exhibit by photographer Patrice Helmar that captures a piece of Alaska – the dramatic landscapes in and around Juneau, as well as the people who live there.

The show runs from Tuesday, Oct. 16 through Thursday, Nov. 13. A community reception and artist talk will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 5 to 7 p.m. The talk begins at 6 p.m.

JKCG is located in MCCC's Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street, across the street from the Kerney Building. General JKCG hours are: Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery's director and curator is Michael Chovan-Dalton, coordinator of the MCCC Photography program. More information about JKCG and upcoming shows is available on the JKCG website here.

Originally from Juneau, Helmar is now a photographer and curator living in New York City. She says that these photographs explore the dramatic potential and complexity of returning home: characters, archetypes, and dreamlike landscapes of 50 miles on a road to nowhere.

Helmar is in the third year of shooting this project. As she writes in her artist statement: “It's the middle of June, and the sun doesn't go down until well after midnight. I drive an old rusted truck that barely gets my gear around, drink too much coffee, and go about visiting old haunts. During the day I drive out the one road, exploring neighborhoods and landscapes. In the evening, I find myself making photographs in the downtown area where I was a bartender for much of my twenties. Life for many Alaskans begins and ends in a bar, or a tired circle of town. Bars for the irreligious, and God fearing folks alike are a social center. Much to the chagrin of locals, my camera and lights are a bright disruption in barrooms and on the street."

She is a graduate of Columbia University's Visual Arts MFA program, a visiting professor at Pratt Institute and Columbia University, and is currently teaching at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Helmar's work has appeared internationally, including at the Jewish Museum, National Museum of Iceland, Houston Center for Photography, New York Photo Festival, BOSI Contemporary, Fisher Landau Center, Judith Charles Gallery, and the Anchorage Museum.
In 2016, she founded and continues to curate the Marble Hill Camera and Supper Club. The Camera Club is an ongoing discussion about photography modeled after queer family skill share workshops, and began in her home in the Bronx. The Marble Hill Camera Club has outgrown Helmar’s living room, and now takes place at a community hall in Queens.

Helmar was a nominee for the Rema Hort Mann and Gordon Parks Prize, and a recipient of a Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship. Her work is included in public and private collections including the Centre Pompidou Library, Rasmuson Foundation, Juneau Douglas City Museum, Duke University, and the Barnard Zine Library. More about Helmar can be found on her website here.

"Dirty Old Town" is the 12th exhibit at JKCG since its opening in March of 2017. Some of the exhibits have focused close to home, as with Habiyb Ali Shu'Aib’s “Beloved Trenton,” while others have taken visitors to less familiar cultures and places in America and beyond.

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Directions to James Kerney Campus

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