Student Photography Exhibit Opens Today in L/L Gallery

A rare artistic event will occur on Feb. 19 at UVM’s Living/Learning Gallery. Student photographer Michael Heeney will display a series of photos entitled “Lost or Left Behind: Iconic Images of Found Objects.” Joan Watson, Director of the Pottery Co-op and L/L Gallery affiliate, said that exhibits by current students seldom occur. “Michael’s work is strong enough to hold an individual show,” she said. “He’s incredibly creative; he’s got an eye and an ability to work with the moment.” The photographs’ motif relates to the intangible significance of found objects. “I thought of ‘Iconic Images’ because…I’m presenting them as a symbol rather than the object,” said Heeney. “I wanted to find interesting objects that people can relate to in a way other than what the object is – a symbol of something else.” This specific genre of photography is defined by Heeney as items that are lost or discarded. “They’re things that catch my attention, something that I’ve never seen before, something that’s out of the ordinary,” said Chad Harter, Director of the Photography Co-op. Once he finds such objects, he places them in front of a white background and experiments with lighting. His side lighting techniques focus on illumination coupled with strategic shadowing to allow the emergence of the object’s rich textural detail. Heeney replaces standard window mats with a simple combination of the photograph shielded by a pane of glass. “Usually, when you put something behind a mat, it makes it more about the image rather than the actual photograph,” Heeney said. “Window mats…take some of the creativity out of it.” The photos are larger than the sizes of most of the found objects. Such light manipulation and magnification of the objects in the photos expose their normally subtle elements. Heeney also represents the actual objects next to their corresponding photos. He aims to explore the change in the object’s value when it is taken out of its context. It is a metamorphosis of the potentially mundane into the unique. For instance, two photos that Heeney describes are of an old broomstick and a flattened piece of twine. His initial ideas of the broomstick were that of a “fetish and a voodoo doll.” The twine appealed to his appreciation for texture, which was developed through its side lighting and photographic enlargement. Harter characterized Heeney’s work as”brilliance,” while Watson said,”I love how direct they [his photos] are. They’re just these very succinct impressions, and they’re very well composed.”