Ghostly, dramatic images haunted the Carlson Gallery at the reception for photographer Traer Scott’s exhibit “Natural History” on Feb. 20.
Inspired by her constant visits to the American Museum of Natural History in New York as a child, Scott’s exhibit consists of over two dozen images taken through glass of the museum’s displays, catching the reactions of viewers on the other side.
“Natural History is a series of completely candid, in-camera single exposure images which merge the living and the dead, creating allegorical narratives of our troubled co-existence with nature,” Scott said in her exhibit’s biography.
“I really like the method used to get the photos,” junior political science major Christina Delgado said.
“They are super simple, and the images are trippy and kind of unreal. It’s like merging wildlife with real life,” Delgado said.
Scott’s photographs range from featuring various age groups to including several animals such as tigers, vultures and hyenas.
Her unconventional approach to her artwork came to her by an accident in 2008 when she took a photo of the museum diorama and caught her husband’s reflection in the photograph.
Jacob Talamantes, senior speech communication and psychology major, agrees with Delgado’s views on Scott’s approach to her artwork.
“I enjoy the use of people who didn’t know they were taken pictures of and catching their reactions to somebody else’s work of art through glass,” Talamantes said.
“I like how she used all these people who came to see a different form of art and now they’re getting put in a different gallery,” he said.
Aside from the usual refreshments and hors d’oeuvres, Scott’s presence was as eye-catching as her unorthodox photographic method.
With the help of FaceTime on an iPad and professor of photography Gary Colby, Scott was able to attend the reception despite her residence in Providence, Rhode Island.
Colby guided the iPad throughout the gallery, giving Scott access to see reactions to her artwork and the opportunity to talk to the guests.
Resting at the edge of the gallery was a photograph of three pandas with a mother and daughter figure on the other side of the glass viewing the display titled “Pandas.”
Valeria Lepe, junior business administration major, credited that photograph as her favorite and felt it as commentary on human families.
“I thought it was criticism on how humans, although we’re supposed to think more, sometimes don’t have strong bonds like animals do,” she said.
The pandas look close together as if they are a family while the mother and daughter figures’ reflections look as if they are in a rush and disinterested in the diorama.
Although Lepe prefers art that is straightforward, she still enjoyed the abstract photographs.
“A lot of picture galleries seem more upfront and clear with what they are trying to get across,” Lepe said.
“But with these photos, you have to think a little bit and come up with your own interpretation,” she said.
“It gives you more time to think about the images instead of seeing it and move on with your life,” Lepe said.
Talamantes suggests people should visit the gallery because the images are very different than the usual photographs in exhibits.
“These photographs are creative but also pretty ghostly,” he said. “Definitely make sure you come and look at it.”
“Natural History” will run through April 4 in the Carlson Gallery.
Karla Rendon can be reached at email@example.com.