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CCU students collaborate with Chinese art students

by Druckenmiller

The Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery in Edwards College is hosting a photography exhibit titled “Social Landscapes” that runs through Nov. 25.

The exhibit is a collaborative effort with the Nanjing Art Institute in China, the result of Easton Selby’s visit to the institute last fall. Selby, assistant professor of visual arts, spent two weeks at the institute, critiquing the students’ work, offering his advice and lecturing about what was going on in Coastal Carolina University’s art department. The visit ended with a six-hour meeting with Nanjing directors about a potential collaborative effort where both sides agreed on a concept: “Social Landscapes.”

“It’s a hot topic in contemporary photography,” said Selby. “It is one both cultures can relate to.”

So what does ‘social landscapes’ mean?

While landscape implies the scenery viewable from a specific vantage point, social landscape explores different points of view and interpretations of society and culture, particularly how external forces, such as economic hardship, are changing the way people live. Through this collaborative effort by both institutes, CCU and Nanjing students can communicate without the obstruction of language barriers. Through their photography, students explore different cultural perspectives on housing, faith, work and other themes and how they shape the social climate.

Kelly Brown, a CCU graduate who majored in art studio, has a focused interpretation of what she captured in her shots on display: “No longer can we isolate ourselves from other classes or living styles,” said Brown in her artist statement. “Some of the people who found themselves on the inside of the white picket fence are now finding themselves on the outside, looking in on the life they used to call perfect.”

Whether participants are interested in a career in photography or not, their contributions to this gallery exhibit add to their credentials.

“Our students now have a résumé which lists participation in an international gallery exhibit,” said Selby.

Thus far, the exhibit has been well received at both venues—it was first shown in May 2011 at the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum in Nanjing. Due to its success, future collaborations are in the works. Two representatives from the Nanjing Institute will make the trip to the Grand Strand later this month to discuss the next joint endeavor.

“We want to keep things fresh,” said Selby. “It’s been great to see this exhibit come to fruition, and I’m excited to see what comes next.”

There will be a study-abroad Maymester in China in May 2012. Selby, along with Scott Mann, assistant professor of visual arts who specializes in graphic design, invites students to explore some of the major cities in China, including a visit to Nanjing and the art institute. There will be both a photography and graphic design course offered during the visit.

The Bryan Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the gallery at 843-349-3466.

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