‘Mind Shadows’: a photographic exhibit at Lycoming College Art Gallery

Just as the body creates a shadow in bright sunshine, so can the mind create a shadow of the self. These shadows of the mind are the topic of exploration for photographer Ralph Wilson’s upcoming exhibit at the Lycoming College Art Gallery. “Mind Shadows” runs through July 22.

Wilson is currently the director of the Factory Works Gallery and the Williamsport Community Darkroom at the Pajama Factory, where he teaches black and white film photography and historic processes.

“I pursued photography as a serious hobby since I was a teenager and always had a darkroom at home. In the early 1990s I began freelancing assignment at the Sun-Gazette, eventually becoming a staff photographer. In 2005 I left the newspaper and opened a commercial studio with a fellow photographer. I have since closed that business and now create work for exhibition,” said Wilson.

He has earned awards in photojournalism from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and the Associated Press. His work has appeared in USA Today, Time, Oprah Magazine and metropolitan newspapers throughout the country.

His fine art photography has earned regional and national awards from numerous juried exhibitions.

“Mind Shadows” addresses the way people tend to “bury some thoughts because we fear the stigmas that are attached to them. Sometimes we hide our thoughts because we are trying to carefully manicure the perception others have of us in an effort to control how we are defined.” The work in the exhibit addresses the struggle of attempting to manipulate how others perceive us.

“This exhibit includes three bodies of work that speak to mental health issues. I was looking for a common thread to tie them together and felt that they touch on how we want others to see us. Many of the images address thoughts and feelings we hide,” said Wilson. “There are parts of our lives that we only allow a glimpse of to others. These glimpses cast a shadow of our well-being.”

There will be an artists reception at the gallery 5-9 p.m. June 2. Wilson will present a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m.

“Most of my work is comprised of story-telling series. I’ll give the back-story behind the work and the thought process behind each series. The work is mostly untitled because I want to give the viewer a chance to put the images in context to their own lives,” explained Wilson. “The majority of my work is created with film and printed by hand using historic photographic processes ranging from 1842 to today. Some explanation of the processes will be talked about.”

“Mind Shadows” features conceptual and self portraits which are “combined with historic photographic processes to explore the causes, manifestations and coping methods that come out of our darkest moments and deepest secrets.”

In this modern age of nearly ever-present photography, one has to wonder how the photographic artist is affected, when high-quality cameras are popular novelties.

Wilson welcomes a sharing of creativity, though he’s not convinced it comes only from pricey equipment.

“I don’t think the quality of the camera necessarily plays a role in the creation of artistic photographs. It has added another tool to the box and the speed and ease of technology may be encouraging more people to make art,” he said. “But that’s wonderful. If people can comfortably express their creativity and easily share their inspiration with others, I’m all for it. I have found my niche working with outdated processes and a range of cameras that date back to the 1920s, some I have picked up for five or ten dollars.”

For Wilson, photographic art “excels at documentation and reportage and that can produce artistic images of scenes that we would not otherwise see” — like shadows of the mind.

For more information about “Mind Shadows,” visit www.lycoming.edu/art/gallery.html

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