SCAD this week celebrates a decade of deFINE ART, an annual program of special commissions, exhibitions, lectures and performances that take place Tuesday–Thursday at university locations in Atlanta and Savannah. Only two of the 14 accompanying exhibitions happen in Atlanta, and one, Where the Light Enters by longtime Atlanta Ballet photographer Charles A. McCullers and Cecilia A. Montalvo, is of special interest.
Where the Light Enters, the duo’s thesis exhibition, uses various photograph processes to study the impact that time and weather have on South Florida’s barrier islands. The show is free and runs through March 15 at the Trois Gallery on Peachtree Street. The opening reception, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, is followed by a discussion and Q&A session with the artists and moderator Elizabeth Turk, a SCAD photography professor.
Montalvo and McCullers also explore the meaning of divided origins. One comes from a multicultural family; the other has two families, adoptive and biological. Their collaboration is based on shared thematic interest in how mythologies of belonging operate.
They use an early photographic process called wet plate collodion to capture their subjects in the environmental intensity of the barrier islands, using a portable darkroom. In this way, Where the Light Enters metaphorically explores origins and the unexpected possibilities of going forward to get back.
McCullers has been Atlanta Ballet’s principal photographer since 2000. In January, ARTS ATL featured his never-seen-before photo essay on pointe shoes. In a 40-year career, McCullers has established relationships with such institutions as Atlanta’s High Museum of Art; the Tate Gallery in London; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; and the Sir Elton John Photography Collection.
Montalvo was born and raised in Miami. She has worked for The Phillips Collection and Harvard University at Dumbarton Oaks, both in Washington, D.C., and for Smithsonian Magazine.