Assistant Arts Editor
Faculty members, students and visitors discussed photographer Eliot Dudik’s landscape photographs depicting American history at the “Broken Land” reception May 8 in the Irene Carlson Gallery.
This exhibit is the first time Dudik is showcasing his photographs from the “Broken Land” collection. Dudik shot all the photographs with a Korona Panoramic View, manufactured in the early 1900s, to capture the extensive landscapes.
Dudik met Gary Colby, professor of photography, at the Society for Photographic Education Conference in Chicago spring of 2013 when he first started the project.
“He (Colby) was doing a portfolio review (of me) and all of a sudden, he was really excited and he asked me if I want to have a show at the University of La Verne,” Dudik said.
Many gallery visitors stopped in front of “Boonsboro, Maryland” due to its vast differences in contrast with the other photographs, which were of scenery and war reenactments. It is a daze-like diptych of a snowy winter landscape, with a few bare trees in the distance. Although the photograph looked mostly white at first glance, there were faint traces of cooler tones – blue and purple at the sides of the photograph.
“What really draws me to this is all the other (photographs) are green and bright and this one is all white,” said Daniel Torres, sophomore photography and English major. “Compositionally, I like the symmetry and how there’s trees on one side and just a few on the other side.”
“From my photographic experience, I like shooting with similar colors so I have a personal connection to it,” Torres said. “That’s just me aesthetically, and everyone has their own palette.”
“It was taken in a total whiteout blizzard,” Dudik said. “You can’t see it, but it was all covered in snowflakes. The camera was completely covered in snow.”
The exhibit was called “Broken Land,” with the meaning derived from Dudik’s intention to preserve American history and nature through the current political divide in the United States, which is similar to the country’s state in the mid 19th century.
“Since it’s called ‘Broken Land,’ you don’t get that it’s broken until you look at the broken tree, the focal point, and really focus on it,” said Brittney Britt, sophomore creative writing major, about “Cedar Creek, Virginia.” “Some have a lot of colors and some are lacking, so there’s a variety. But I like the green, green is deceiving because you don’t notice it’s broken since it’s so bright.”
Dudik shoots photos usually during winter, spring and summer breaks when he is not teaching at the University of South Carolina as an adjunct professor of photography.
“I’m looking for the expressive beautiful but brutal landscape to be fighting in and camping in,” Dudik said. “I’m drawn to it because of the beautiful tension and brutal environment. Just the contrast between beauty and danger.”
“Broken Land” will run through May 30 at the Carlson Gallery.
Cody Luk can be reached at email@example.com.