Opening of the exhibition “Infinite Weight: Present Stories” in the Newnan’s Vault Gallery

Newnan’s Vault Gallery opened the “Infinite Weight: Present Histories” exhibition on October 7, featuring photographs from every state. UWG art lecturer Stephanie Smith manages the Newnan Exhibit Hall and invited Hallie Ringle, chief curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, to curate the event one month.

“We had a great reception last Friday,” Smith said. “We had a great turnout of around 50 people. Especially since it was during fall vacation. A group of students came, a group of teachers and the local Newnan community.

Located in Wadsworth Auditorium, the Vault Gallery is owned by the Town of Newnan and is on loan to the UWG to exhibit photography, traditional art and other art forms hosted or created through the program of Visual Arts from the UWG.

The photographers featured in this exhibit live in all corners of the United States, including residents from southern Florida to Mississippi, residents from northern Michigan to New York, and the Midwest including Kansas to the further west to California.

“Two of [the artists] live in Georgia and came over, which was really cool,” Smith said. “They talked a bit about their work that was selected.”

“Infinite Weight” is a juried photography exhibition, which means the UWG elected Ringle to select the works and basically curate the exhibition around the overall theme.

“She flew in and gave a talk about the show,” Smith said. “She was there to talk about her selection process.”

The exhibit’s prompt is solely the title “Infinite Weight: Present Stories,” which encouraged works embodying the concept in overt or ambiguous ways. Naturally, the entries shared similar traits, with many depicting abandoned places, historical monuments, and the cosmos as far as space, history, and locations are concerned.

“[Ringle] puts on a lot of exhibitions and looks at a lot of art, and since the pandemic she’s seen a lot of artists approaching that experience and working on that,” Smith said. “She was pleasantly surprised. When she started designing the show and choosing works that spoke to each other, the works she chose really don’t. She felt that [the ones she selected] were somehow of a more cheerful nature. They deal with place, location, space, but then we have two photos of close-ups of mice, so that’s a good variety of images.

The photographs featured capture the feelings surrounding the story and the environment. Each photo evokes an awareness of space-time through the many vast landscapes, ordinary people and small creatures.

“There is a series of photographs that use this ancient technique. They remind me of Dutch still lifes of fruit and flowers,” Smith said. “They’re playing on a historical genre, but it’s sort of decimated fruit. They look a bit post-apocalyptic.

“[The exhibition] was a range [of styles]”, continued Smith. “From some black and white photographs, we have two videos that have been accepted and played in the gallery. There are techniques called palladium prints… There is cyanotype. So we have traditional and then really contemporary processes, like digital and video.

Many techniques and creative artistic decisions individualize each piece, but the theme ties them all together.

“Infinite Weight” ends Nov. 3, so until then, UWG students and the community are invited to view the free exhibit Thursdays and Fridays from 2-6 p.m.

“This is the first juried show we’ve ever held,” Smith said. “For [photography professors] Mark Schoon and John Morris, it was their dream to bring this level of contemporary photography to West Georgia.

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