Picture This; New Photo Show Opens at COA

BAR HARBOR — There’s a new exhibition at College of the Atlantic’s newest location, Deering Common.

“Individual Empires,” by photographer Meryl Fox Mekeel will be on display there from Tuesday, June 2, through Sunday, June 7. It’s a collection of photos of people in their personal environments. She says her photography is a means of connecting with people, understanding how they live and what they care about.

There is an opening reception with refreshments on June 2 from 5 to 7 p.m.

“My interests lie not only in human subjects but the space they chose to surround themselves with,” says Ms. Mekeel. “These photos are my journey into understanding people’s lifestyles.”

Through them, and through the telling details we often see in people without fully noticing, Ms. Mekeel seeks to discover what makes the space her subject’s domain, and to convey that through the photos, as if it were a story, she says.

At least 15 photos will be on display, each a 30-by-20-inch digital print. One is of Ms. Mekeel’s grandmother with her hand on her hip. “She used to pose for photographs like a model, for my grandfather to keep while at war, and she’s telling me that with her hands on her hip,” Ms. Mekeel says.

Like the image of her grandmother, some of Ms. Mekeel’s photos are people very close to her – her boyfriend’s brother, good friends in Bar Harbor. Others are the result of chance encounters. Her choices come from seeing a strong connection between people and their spaces, from a young woman lounging on a clothing-strewn bed to a man hanging out in a garage filled with motorcycles and drums. “It’s not at all about what people do,” she says. “It’s about their environment.”

The exhibit is Ms. Mekeel’s senior project. She spent three years at COA and a year studying photography at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.

Each photo took about an hour to set up, working on lighting and composition, making sure, says Ms. Mekeel, “that the space doesn’t take over the person.” Because, she adds, “While the space is what the photograph is about, it’s the space that’s describing the person.”

Deering Common is located just south of Turrets, on the ocean. To reach it, enter College of the Atlantic on the south entrance and either follow signs for Turrets. There is parking near the road and short-term parking near Turrets. For handicapped parking, take the third driveway on your right (just before the Turrets access road).

For more information about “Individual Empires,” call 603 568 2441.

For more COA news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.


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