Picturing hopeJulianna Thibodeaux

Hope: Photographs

Herron School of Art and Design/IUPUI

Through Nov. 13

Several years ago, when Lee Marks and Alice Rose George published Hope: Photographs, a book of photographs reflecting the theme of "hope" with accompanying essays, the photographs themselves began making their rounds in exhibition spaces around the country. Now, these photographs have come home, in a sense, to roost (Indiana is home to Marks). Work by Alex Harris is part of the exhibit, HOPE, currently on view at Herron.

More than 90 photographers are included here, among them Lee Friedlander, Cindy Sherman and Mary Ellen Marks, to name just a few of the better-known. Displayed in categories (though unlabeled as such) including connection and romance, birth and childhood, religion, nature, invention, risk taking and justice, the photographs reflect curators Marks' and George's fine-tuned eye for the ethereal and sublime, and the expertly conceived and realized. The pictures in this exhibition are both lovely and refined examples of the depth and breadth of the craft - more or less prior to photography's digital age.

What makes this exhibit a greater success, other than its "who's who" qualities of artist and approach, is its spirit: an ever-enduring one that renders these pictures timeless in their message that hope springs eternal. Hope is many things: It's a feeling, sure; but it's also a state of being. Photographs such as Michelle Hagens' "Safe Haven," in which a mother holds her baby skin to skin, remind us that hope is also retro-active: A child's birth is miracle enough, and hope is what gives a pregnancy momentum.

Hope also drives us far beyond birth and even beyond death. Photographs of a gravesite planted with wildflowers, surrounded by a picket fence, and other images of life's passing, suggest a hope for what lies outside of this world.

What links these images is a perspective of looking at life and all its tragedies and triumphs with an eye towards what's good, and what good could be.

Displayed at Herron, the exhibition has the opportunity to move both students and the public; students are given a historical account of both photography in its finest hours (pre-digital) and a sense of the artist's eye and how capricious it is to capture exactly the right image at precisely the right time; when the light is most suggestive, say, or the movement of a tree branch has come to a stop.

The photographs here offer glimpses of nature, humanity and where the two meet. Therein lies the greatest hope of all - that all variations of the relationship have the possibility of harmony, even after so much destruction.

Hope: Photographs is on view through Nov. 13 in Herron Galleries at Herron School of Art and Design/IUPUI, 735 W. New York St. The gallery is open daily and admission is free. Visit www.herron.iupui.edu for hours and information.


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