Taking display from Feb. 12 to Mar. 26, ARTS/West is hosting an annual photography contest gallery exhibit, For the Love of Athens.
With well over 100 photography submissions, ARTS/West, 132 W State St., chose 30 to be displayed in the exhibit. Of those 30, winners are chosen by a juror.
In the past, ARTS/West had been able to hold large groups of people for the art galleries but, due to COVID-19, there had to be a change in regulating the number of people this year.
People interested in attending are able to set up an appointment by contacting Emily Beveridge, ARTS/West’s program specialist. People can also visit the exhibit at any time with the possibility of having to wait due to their restriction of 10 people in the exhibit at a time.
“I think that this is a really nice, relatively safe activity for people to do – just to come out and see a gallery show, especially if they want to schedule an appointment,” Beveridge said. “I think everyone is wanting something to do right now, and the fact that all the photographs are of the people's community, they are of Athens County, it's a really nice way for people to do an activity and hopefully feel connected to their community through photographs.”
All photographs hold value in different aspects of the Athens community, for any touch of Athens photographed could be a contributor to this photo contest. With Athens and the city’s strong support system, the artists would appreciate and enjoy it if the people of Athens would view their work.
“For people to come to this exhibit, even during tumultuous times as it is right now, it would mean a lot to, number one, the different artists out there, and the kind of stories they're trying to tell, whether it be a sunset or a portrait, it just shows the vision of different people living in this community and it shows the love that people have for each other,” Srijita Chattopadhyay, a second-year graduate student studying visual communications, said. “People see small things within the community and that's why it's important to come out and see these little things that spark joy in not just the photographer or the artist, but also what it means to be captured in front of the camera.”
Chattopadhyay took first place with her portrait this year. Although she placed first, she was most excited to be able to tell the story of the child pictured in the portrait she took. She feels as though behind every picture is a great story that needs to be told.
Photography is a creative outlet for many people and has the ability to be enjoyed by all participants – the photographer and the viewers.
“The other thing I would hope people would take away from this is, perhaps, realizing that they don't necessarily have to be trained photographers to use photography as a tool for self-expression and well being,” Erin LaBelle, the juror for this year’s contest, said. “Everyone does in fact have a pretty good camera on their phone these days. So, if they view the images, perhaps, they will be motivated to start making photographs themselves or taking a photo walk each day.”
Facing challenges every day, the people of Athens are encouraged to come out and view the vibrant, positive and meaningful images. LaBelle feels the photography will help boost one's immune system and the pictures of nature will help reduce stress levels.
Beveridge, Chattopadhyay and LaBelle believe that For the Love of Athens is a chance to experience a glimpse of the people, the places and the things of Athens through the lens of someone else.