Monday, September 20, 2010

Chuck Hemard to show work at Opal Gallery

Georgia-based photographer Chuck Hemard will have a show of his work at Atlanta's Opal Gallery this year. This follows up on his participation in the New Southern Photography show earlier this year at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.

Chuck is a native of New Orleans but grew up in Hattiesburg, MS. He received his MFA in photography from the University of Georgia in 2004 and now teaches photography at Auburn University. His work has been exhibited nationally and extensively throughout the Southeast US including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Atlanta, Opal Gallery in Atlanta, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia, Mobile Museum of Art, as well as the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida.

Chuck's subject throughout his several portfolios is what we might call the New South, but he is especially interested in the pain of transition, in the cost of change, in the signs on the Southern landscape that mark what is happening to older notions of home, to the Southern illusion of stasis, of things remaining the same.

Chuck operates in the tradition of landscape photography but attends especially to the places where human actions impinge upon the natural setting. One of his portfolios, for example, documents the ways construction of interstate highways disrupts or confronts or nestles inside the world it cuts across by looking at what the reviewer Jonathan Bouknight has called "the strange no-mans land between interstates and exit ramps."

Chuck is good at capturing the concept of "the new South" visually, showing us Atlanta, for example, in Jonathan's words, as a "city of tombstones butted against interstates," whose charm comes from the  "cranes [that] populate the skyline and the slightly toxic river [that] runs through it."

Much of the kind of work Chuck does might, in the hands of a less skillful or insightful photographer, be labeled merely banal, a lifting up of the prosaic and the ordinary. But Chuck's work documents the necessary but still painful reality of loss, of giving up the familiar in favor of the culture that is not yet, but is still being born. Chuck is definitely a Southern Photographer to Watch Out For.

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