By Colby Gable
Among a variety of new exhibits being displayed at the Turchin Center this month, is that of Michelle Van Parys’, Beyond the Plantations: Images of the New South; a work where Van Parys seeks out to give a sense of definition to the evolutionary anatomy of the South. Hailing from Arlington, Virginia, Van Parys is currently a professor at the College of Charleston, and many of the images from the exhibit are referred to with Charleston-based details within the surrounding environment. Van Parys was fundamental in the construction of College of Charleston’s photography program nearly twenty years ago and has previously produced photographs exploring the cultural reflections confined within the surrounding landscape of a place in her work The Way Out West. She has been the recipient of two fellowship positions from institutions in the South, and her photographs have been implemented in museums such as: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The High Museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, and the Portland Art Museum.
As the title itself reaches out to us in a way that sparks ideas based in that of change, here, even before the perception of any image or color, we are led to believe this South is one which differs from the South which had emerged before it, that in some way through the select images we can discover a new place out of an older one. She herself has mentioned of the exhibit, “Artists can make connections visible. They can guide us through sensuous kinesthetic responses to topography, lead us from archeology and land-based social history into alternative relationships to place.” By using the natural surroundings and showing the sort of contemporary all togetherness of a specific space, she makes way for the argument that perhaps the South being shown now, after its demolition and resurrection, has a recently found ability to define its space anew, how the “New South” can still be the “real South.”
The Turchin Center is located at 423 West King Street beside Foggy Pines bookstore, with hours at 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM Tuesday through Thursday, 12:00 – 8:00 PM on Friday, and 10 AM – 6 PM on Saturday.