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Picture This: Walker Art Gallery displays photography of former professor
Ann Pelster
JMC 318
Photo by Alison Sievers
Junior visual communication and design majors Leah Nelson (right) of Byron and Kylie Hauer (left), of Merino, Colo., take in one of the photos in Jim Mays Image Maker exhibit. His images capture the feeling of what he is seeing. He found value and tried to share that moment with somebody else said John Fronczak, director of the Walker Art Gallery.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And if you don’t act fast, you might miss your chance to behold the beauty of Jim May’s photography currently on display in the UNK Walker Art Gallery.

May’s show opened on Sept. 27 and will conclude with an artist talk and reception at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29. This exhibition is May’s first show of digital photography.

May, who taught art history and creative photography at UNK from 1968-2006, is now retired and lives in Custer, S.D.

John Fronczak, director of the Walker Art Gallery, describes May’s work as very sound and of good quality; well-balanced and beautifully composed.

“He focuses most of his photography on images of nature with the evidence of people around,” Fronczak said. “May references the way people impact the environment. He is after what strikes him as a worthwhile image.”

May’s work is not about telling a story though. According to Fronczak, May’s photography is neither narrative, nor journalistic, nor critical. Instead, May tries to capture the feeling of what he is seeing. “He wants to elicit in you the feelings he got when he took the picture,” Fronczak said.

And amidst the busy life of being a college student, Fronczak encourages all students to slow down and take advantage of this chance to experience the feelings that May is trying to convey.

“It’s a time to stop and to look and to understand that this person didn’t rush off from the moment. He found value and tried to share that moment with somebody else,” Fronczak said.

Fronczak added that these photographs allow students to “travel” to places that are normally out of reach to college students. This specific collection contains photographs from May’s travels through Alaska, Mexico, Canada and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

In addition, Fronczak said May’s work is important for students in the art department to analyze because he shows an ability to compose a well-balanced photograph.

“When you’re a photographer, the world is without a frame, and you are trying to find a composition within the frame of the camera,” Fronczak said. “You are trying to locate shapes and rhythms as they interact. The frame moves. The world stays. If you do it right, the photo can elicit a bigger story to the viewer.”

According to Brent Wheaton, a senior secondary education major with subject endorsements in math and biology, May did it right. “The photographs were very interesting, very intricate,” Wheaton said. “Even though most were black and white, they really caught your attention and made you look for something deeper.”

May’s work might seem foreign to students, Fronczak said, but it can make a big impact and broaden a student’s horizons. Seeing May’s work is seeing something from a different generation and a different outlook.

“May’s work harkens back to another time — these photos could have been taken 30 years ago,” Fronczak said. “What’s important is understanding that they are digital technology and accepting the idea that you can still slow down and actually spend time with something… looking, listening, and feeling.”



See it before it's gone
*Jim May's photography exhibit will only be displayed until Oct. 29. The Walker Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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