Horton Gallery exhibit brings photography to life

Gallery Director Jan Marlese speaks at the Contemporary Portraiture exhibit at Horton Art Gallery at Delta. Photo by Ayaana Williams
Gallery Director Jan Marlese speaks at the Contemporary Portraiture exhibit at Horton Art Gallery at Delta. Photo by Ayaana Williams

The Contemporary Portraiture exhibit opened at Delta College’s L.H. Horton Gallery on Nov. 21. 

It featured photos by photographers from across the country, including the city of Stockton.

34 out of 100 photographers’ entries were selected to be displayed in the exhibit, with each image showing a different kind of portrait.

“There’s no strict rule as to what a portrait is, even a portrait here is trees and a little dog,” said Gallery Director Jan Marlese.

The artwork demonstrates a wide variety of styles from the photographers; from images blurred with intention to photographs displaying nudity.

What some see as paintings or vertical pictures of people, photographers see as a unique form of art that anyone can appreciate.

“You get to really look at somebody’s face, which we don’t get to do that often because it makes people uncomfortable,” said Photography Professor Kirstyn Russell. “When we have a photograph of someone’s face or body we actually can take it in, look and take our time. I think that’s what makes portraiture be something people have enjoyed looking at for hundreds of years.”

Several photographers use their art as a medium to convey messages to the observers.

“I want to create a reaction. When you’re looking at an image I want you to feel something from the photograph, so creating almost a relationship within the image,” said Photographer Brent Reaney, who won the second place award for $400 with his photograph entry “Muska, Ruslan and Emirj” on display in the gallery.

Reaney is a portrait photographer who is a Masters of Arts candidate at the University of Houston.

He started in photojournalism, but developed an interest in portrait photography after taking pictures of so many people.

“I sort of realized that portraiture was a thing I wanted to do. I cared about the stories and the issues around photojournalism, but I was caring more about the people.”

Some images have the intent of invoking a reaction, others try to tell the story of the subject in the portrait.

“When I’m photographing people I try to show who they are and give a sense of what their life might be like based on the photograph,” said photographer Richard Dweck.

Several artists have their own vision of art when it comes to composing a shot, but for Dweck, it’s about what he can photograph and find intriguing about a picture.

“I have no definition of art. I just photograph and try to find my photograph,” he said

Dweck switched to a career in photography after working for most of his life as an engineer.

“I did that for a whole career and now I’m in photography. I’ve been devoting my life to this for the past four years.”

First place award for $600 went to Dan Farnum, an Associate Professor of Photography at the University of Tulsa with his entry, “Resting Skateboarder, Detroit, Mi.”

The exhibition will remain on display in the gallery until Friday, Dec. 13.