Gelatin Silver Prints
Galvanized Steel Air Vent, Acrylic Paint
Hardesty Art Center
October 6 – November 18
Shelter is a project to visualize time spent underground in Oklahoma storm cellars. These cool, dim spaces are both havens and tombs, meant to guard against extreme weather, and yet they engender a palpable sense of vulnerability and fear.
To capture this duality, the cellar, which itself contains the basic components of a camera—a dark chamber with an opening—is fitted with a dark cloth for a shutter; then, using only the available light that filters in through the air vent, a sheet of light sensitive paper is pressed up against the opening to produce an exposure.
The result is a collection of similar compositions, white and grey circular forms situated in black rectangles. While they appear abstract and call to mind imagery of celestial bodies, the photographs are literal one-to-one records of the ambient light inside each cellar.
Operating between representation and abstraction, this project is both a document and an impression of place. This region in lower Tornado Alley requires architecture of protection, which residents share in moments of need. Embedded in this routine but unsettling experience is a sense of connectedness and hope.
Funded by the Art 365 grant from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition