So, I’m almost two months into my graduate program and I have to say that is it kicking my ass! It’s very fun and very engaging but VERY hard. But, I will devote a whole blog post to my move, getting settled and the school year. I did however, want to talk about a exhibition in Portland that I just saw.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to visit the White Box Gallery in Portland. Being new to Oregon, I was excited to be able to see an art space outside of Eugene and was also really pleased to discover that the White Box is actually a part of the University of Oregon. Currently, a collection of photographs by Craig Hickman is being exhibited. Craig Hickman is a professor in the Digital Arts department at the University of Oregon. The show entitled, “Craig Hickman” is a pretty fascinating collection of photographs documenting student protests during the 1960s and 1970s, especially after the Kent State Massacre on May 4th, 1970 and the focus on the Vietnam War.
These protests occurred while Hickman was at the University of Portland as a student where he studied photography, so Hickman was there to document the happenings. However, for whatever reason, many of the photographs were never developed or deemed poor quality by Hickman and boxed up. The curator of the exhibition explained that a couple of years ago, Hickman discovered the same boxes of the undeveloped negatives and looked at them with more experience and fresh eyes. What is remarkable about the photographs that are up on the gallery walls today is the process that Hickman used to develop them. Unlike the typical film developing processing of chemically treating the photographic film and or paper, Hickman actually photographed the negative with a digital camera and then uploaded the picture onto Photoshop where he then “developed” the negative through photo editing and filters. In short, the photographs on the walls are actually edited digital photographs of undeveloped film– which you would never know just by looking.
In the main gallery, the narrative is laid out with large scale, landscape format photographs each depicting the larger aspects of the student protest. The viewer is confronted by various steps of the process: the build up, the planning, the execution, the outcome and the damage. As you move into the second gallery (which is all portraits), the viewer gets a better look at all of the individuals within the student protests. Hickman also documents some major players in the United States at this time, like Huey P. Newton and Robert Kennedy in one of his last public appearances before his assassination in 1968. While many of the portraits are purely documentary in style, some photographs are very intimate and the viewer can get a sense of how closely tied these students were to the movements and each other.
Overall, this was a pretty great exhibition and I was really happy to have the chance to see the photographs. The White Box Gallery seems to be a pretty incredible resource for exhibition. I am really looking forward to spending more time exploring outside of Eugene and experiencing art of the Northwest.