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UK student's photo exhibit to open at The Center

By: Sharon Dodson, The Center for Rural Development
By: Sharon Dodson, The Center for Rural Development

When Michelle Combs looks through the viewfinder of her camera, she sees more than just an image.

The University of Kentucky (UK) student, a senior studying art history and photography, challenges those who view her photographs to look beyond what they see in front of them.

In a collection of photographs in her fences series, Combs explores the function of fences in residential areas as an indicator of socioeconomic status.

“My goal is to challenge the viewer of my photographs to question the judgments they make based on appearance,” Combs said. “The homes that reside behind chain link fences are very different than those that reside behind wrought iron fences.”

These and other photographs taken by Combs in a two-part series will be featured in the latest visual arts exhibit presented by Lake Cumberland Performing Arts in partnership with The Center.

The exhibit, which includes a mixture of 35mm black and white silver gelatin prints and digital archival prints in color, opens Feb. 24 and will continue through May. Photographs from both series will be featured in The Center’s visual arts gallery in the front lobby and along the wall of the north and south exhibit halls.

“Michelle Combs’ exhibit is not only visually appealing but is mentally stimulating,” Dianna Winstead, associate director of arts and culture for The Center, said. “We are pleased to display the work of this talented photographer.”

Focusing on different types of fences, Combs uses imagery to draw attention to the stereotypes associated with homes protected by chain-link fences in comparison to those with an elaborate wrought-iron fence or faded white picket fence.

She captured one set of images on black and white film and another group digitally in color.

“Each of these mediums says something unique about the subject and brings a different aesthetic experience to the viewer,” she said.

The second series of photographs examines the relationship between the organic and inorganic structures in today’s modern world through reflections.

“I sought to juxtapose nature with man-made objects on a single plane, mostly capturing reflections in windows and the interior space of a building in a single frame,” Combs explained. “These images capture the harmony and tension between modern man and nature, expose our human desire to be surrounded by nature, and challenge the viewer to seek the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

The reflection series was shot on black and white film and printed on silver gelatin prints.

A reception to introduce the UK student and photographer to the community will be held on May 13 from 6-7 p.m. in The Center’s lobby preceding the Center Stage performance of Golden Dragon Acrobats Cirque D’Or.

Combs is the daughter of Larry and Karen Combs of London.

The exhibit may be viewed during regular business hours from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and during extended hours when The Center is open for special events. There is no admission to view the exhibit.

The Center is located at 2292 South U.S. 27 (at Traffic Light 15) in Somerset.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Dianna Winstead at 606-677-6000 or e-mail dwinstead@centertech.com.

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