Self-portrait, Pine Bluff ca. 1970. Geleve Grice Papers | Special Collections – University of Arkansas Libraries courtesy of Jim Blair.
Located in the heart of the Fayetteville campus of the University of Arkansas, Old Main has long been home to many and varied departments, programs, and courses throughout the university’s 150-year history.
And now the next chapter in this story includes a new exhibition space covering the halls on the second floor of the building. The space is dedicated to showcasing the artwork and talent of those who have made their home in the U of A or the State of Arkansas.
The first exhibition presented in this space will be Time and Empathy: Geleve Grice, photographer from Arkansas, curated by Aaron R. Turner, assistant professor at the School of Art and director of the school’s Center for Art as a Lived Experience, which is currently under development.
Turner, who like Grice is a photographer, uses photography as a transformative process to understand ideas of home and resilience in two main regions of the United States. – the Arkansas and Mississippi deltas.
While creating this exhibit, Turner said he was struck by the moments captured in Geleve Grice’s work, which includes similar themes to those of Grice that primarily documented black life in the mid-20th century. .
“Grice’s photographs weave time, vernacular, history, love and resilience in a way that is authentic to Arkansas, but they foster introspection for the viewer,” he said. .
Grice (1922 – 2004), was born 15 miles from Pine Bluff in the small farming community of Tamo, Arkansas. He began to use the camera in earnest while serving in WWII in the US Navy, and in 1950 began operating a commercial photography studio at Pine Bluff.
Most notably, Turner said that Grice’s work chronicles daily life at Pine Bluff in addition to documenting historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Harry Truman and Joe Louis – as well as capturing significant historical events, such as Silas Hunt’s Enrollment in University of Arkansas Law School.
“Overall, the images are starting to touch on the transformative process: shifts in self-understanding, revisions in belief systems, and changes in lifestyle,” Turner said.
Turner added that much of the information in the exhibit about Grice comes from the University of Arkansas Press Book, A Renowned photographer: Arkansas artist Geleve Grice, by English professor Robert Cochran, Ph.D.
Cochran and Grice first met in 1998 after a friend mentioned an exhibition of Grice’s work at the Leedell Moorhead-Graham Gallery on the Pine Bluff campus of the University of Arkansas. It would be the first of many upcoming visits for the couple, in a friendship that would lead to public programming in Fayetteville, the book and numerous exhibitions statewide.
“Cochran’s research efforts have not only brought greater recognition to Grice’s work, but also play an important role in shaping a more comprehensive narrative of the history of visual culture in Arkansas alongside other photographers. such as Mike Disfarmer, Dorthea Lange, Eugene Richards, Rogerline Johnson, Ira Wilmer Counts Jr., Lisa McCord and Ralph Waldo Armstrong III, ”said Turner.
Turner, who also hosts the Photographers of Color podcast, recently sat down with Cochran to talk about the many memories Cochran has of Grice during the making of the book, the photographs of Grice and her legacy. Listen to the podcast to find out more.
Further, said Turner, “Grice’s approach to photography utilizes universal principles of representational material in the form of archives spanning over 40 years, displays empathetic communication with others through photography and offers the public the possibility of acting on new perspectives by simultaneously considering the past, present and future. “
Visitors to the exhibit can meet Turner and learn more at the exhibit’s official opening reception at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 27.
The reception is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served at the reception in the new gallery space on the second floor of Old Main, outside the Giffels Auditorium.
the Time and Empathy: Geleve Grice, photographer from Arkansas The exhibition has been made possible with the support and assistance of the Office of the Dean of Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, School of Art, Special Collections, Robert Cochran, Trent Bozeman, Larissa Raimy and Scott Frame and Art.