IUPUI liberal arts student curates photography exhibit that bridges physical, virtual spaces

389465_w296INDIANAPOLIS — A new photography exhibit curated by Aaron Pierce, a graduate student in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, brings together photographers from around the world in both a physical gallery space and a virtual space via Instagram and blogs.

Social Photography: Art in Progress” runs through June 27 at Indy Indie Artist Colony & Gallery, 26 E. 14th St. During the exhibit, photographers will share an Instagram account. The pictures they post will be projected onto the gallery’s walls, thus creating a worldwide, ever-changing art exhibit.

The exhibit seeks to create a dialog about the nature of photography in frequently changing social media environments.

Pierce, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the School of Liberal Arts, is finishing a master’s degree in geographic information science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He describes the exhibit as a social experiment that is interactive and engages with the audience.

“We will be hosting a ‘Topic of the Day’ blog at our website where we will bring up topics that fit within the gallery themes, but each photographer’s photographic post will work as an individual pillar of conversation to build off of and connect with other topics, themes and ideas,” he said. “This will be a very fluid and active discussion; it could easily take us for completely unexpected spins.

“We are engrossed into virtual lives now, and this physical gallery serves as the place where we will get experimental with our space,” Pierce said. “We will be hosting artist talks through Google Hangouts from this location as well as interacting with both virtual and physical works hosted in the gallery.”

Pierce, a Carmel resident, said his interest in photography reaches back to childhood. He has also been able to incorporate photography into his academic work during study-abroad trips to Cuba and Morocco.

Pierce has also used social media platforms to showcase his photography, and he organized an IUPUI campus event where students could talk with Lauren Bohn, a journalist based in Cairo during the Arab Spring, via Skype. Bohn is among the photographers participating in the exhibit.

Other artists participating in the exhibit, some with ties to Herron School of Art and Design, include Milli Apelgren, Nabil Attia, Denise Conrady, Kevin Scott Davis, Juan Jerez, Amina Khazie, Sam Ladwig, Zun Lee, and Scott Witt.

“I saw this gallery exhibit as a way to not just show my work, but as an opportunity to use the space for a bigger role in exploring and discussing social media with photography through a collective of artists and an audience that is encouraged to engage with the exhibit,” Pierce said.

Social Photography: Art in Progress” can also be viewed on Instagram at @socphotogallery and followed via the #socphotogallery hashtag. Photo prints are available for purchase.