Heat Wave photo exhibition showing at Lionel Rombach Gallery
As a stifling heat wave descends upon the UA campus, a cooler sort of heat wave is turning up as the Lionel Rombach Gallery premieres “Heatwave: Desert Photography Exhibition and Symposium,” a representation of desert days, in both landscape form and portraiture, that captures the essence of desert living through a collegiate scope.
The exhibit premiered Monday, with the gallery holding the reception today. “Heatwave” will showcase the work of graduate students from the UA, University of New Mexico and Arizona State University.
“Each of these universities is creating some of the best photography in the country, yet due to the long geographic distances, there is relatively little communication between the students of these top ranked programs,” said a memorandum for the exhibition.
Emphasizing individual works from each of the schools, the gallery demonstrates the visual perspectives of each artist, while encompassing a greater sense of geographic connection between the institutions. In a mission statement, the gallery’s purpose is to foster camaraderie among the schools and to enable sharing between graduate students.
Capturing the stark and neutral tones of the desert, the exhibition depicts desert scenes with far more than sprawling landscapes. It exudes the sense of arid lands and dry oppressive heat in suburban neighborhoods that reign over Southwestern summers.
One image in particular by Daniel Coburn, a University of New Mexico graduate student, epitomizes the nature of the exhibit with a large digital print of a woman in full hair and makeup sitting poignantly in a pink inner tube. She perches upon her floating toy surrounded by the syrupy blue chlorine water of a backyard pool. It is both humorous and enticing, as Coburn accurately captures the essence of languid heat.
The human body as a representation of the desert is a common theme.
A pair of inkjet photographs by Stephanie Brunia from the University of New Mexico features two couples dressed in nude clothing, faintly reminiscent of the flat tan pallor the desert conveys. Photographed from the side, the pair are intertwined in odd shapes. At first, the image seems abstract, but upon further examination, it appears to mimic the desert landscape.
Pieces in the exhibition were juried and curated by Rod Slemmons, the current curator for the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago and a teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The show will be open daily to the public through May 8. Whether you’re an Arizonan visitor or a born-and-bred desert rat, “Heatwave: Desert Photography Exhibition and Symposium” presents a fun and singular take on our unique climate.