The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Photography thesis students celebrate first show as concentration

Carrie Shannon | Courtesy Photo

Carrie Shannon takes photographs, like the one above, of abandoned houses throughout Starkville and said she draws inspiration from untold stories of homes left behind. Her work hangs in the BFA photography thesis show in the Cullis Wade Depot Gallery.

The Cullis Wade Depot Gallery’s photography exhibition is the first of its kind at Mississippi State University since photography became its own concentration in the MSU Department of Art.

This week, the MSU department of art celebrates the work of seniors graduating with the Bachelor of Fine Art with an emphasis in photography with a display of their work. 

Thursday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. a reception will be held to encourage a communal viewing of the photos. Jamie Nixon, interim head of the Department of Art, will make opening remarks regarding the entire Department of Art’s fall shows at 6 p.m. in the Colvard Student Union Art Gallery.

The enthralling works on display are testaments to the work of photography students Nikki McKenzie, Carrie Shannon, Sarah Tramel and Carey Woods, all of whom will graduate this year with a bachelor of fine art with an emphasis in photography.  

McKenzie’s work focuses on a subject near to MSU students’ hearts — tailgating. McKenzie said the niches within Mississippi have always fascinated her. “Tailgating is an amazing subculture and a huge part of Mississippi, one that needs to be documented,” she said. McKenzie said she finds inspiration in her surroundings, especially those of Southern cultures. 

McKenzie also said she is particularly inspired by the transformative qualities of light. 

“A boring or mundane object can become absolutely stunning if photographed with the proper lighting,” she said. “Natural light is so fleeting, and I think that is what makes it all the more mesmerizing.” 

Woods said she also found inspiration in Mississippi tradition. She spent the spring 2013 semester photographing buildings in her hometown of Winona, Miss., when she stumbled upon an old white church. 

“It was very overgrown and had two separate doors on the front, which intrigued me,” she said. “I discovered later that the right door was for men and the left for women. Once I discovered that church, I began searching for other rural white churches to photograph.”

Woods said her passion for old-fashioned churches grew as she realized churches stood for more than just religion. 

“It’s not so much the religious aspect that I’m drawn to as much as the building itself and the contents,” she said. “This is where people of the communities gathered in times of worship, joy and sorrow.”

Woods said she found significance in the history of the churches, as well.     “Not textbook history, but everyday history such as a preacher passing away during a sermon or a broken down cotton wagon train disturbing a sermon, or someone deeding four acres of land to the church for $1.” 

Lousiville, Miss.,  native Shannon said she gleans inspiration from the antiquated and abandoned. The Department of Art news website said through photographs of abandoned houses in and around Starkville, Shannon seeks to give viewers a glimpse of the emptiness of homes and precious items families have left behind. 

Tramel of Jackson, Miss., explores a more abstract subject. Her work investigates dreams and the dreamscape and is surreal, ambiguous and deals with the blurriness of the subconscious. 

Tramel said the elusive nature of dreams fascinates her because she never remembers her own dreams. 

“Dreams are like this alternate reality we experience as we are asleep. No one knows exactly why we dream, so they are this kind of mysterious thing,” she said. “I wanted to take an abstract approach to give the photographs an ethereal and mysterious quality.”

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Photography thesis students celebrate first show as concentration