Reciprocity in Art

Photography Students Draw Inspiration from Jones Collection

Photo of woman walking down street.
“Woman Walking Bessemer,” by photography student Kayla White.

Students in Christopher Jordan’s digital photography class borrowed a technique from musical composition to create art that turns the notion of the artist and the audience into a back-and-forth exchange.

“’Call and response’ refers to a compositional tactic where one line of music, perhaps a bit of melody, is played in direct response to another,” Jordan explains. “This implies a dialog, a conversation.”

Students in Jordan’s advanced digital photography class used this notion to assemble the Call and Response exhibit, for which they created art in response to works from the Paul R. Jones Collection.

The project began with individual research conducted on pieces from the Jones Collection, which consists of some 1,700 pieces donated to UA in 2008 by collector Paul R. Jones.

Working with physical works of art made the research an enjoyable process, Jordan said. “Students get particularly excited and engaged when working with actual art objects versus reproductions online or in books,” he explained. “There is no substitute for a direct, unmediated experience.”

Then, the students allowed the Paul R. Jones pieces to inspire their photography.

According to Jordan, this reciprocity is vital. “If there is a central theme, it would have to do with how the creative, art making process is truly about conversation — calling and responding repeatedly with ourselves and our surroundings.”

Other than that, there has been no predicting the students’ response, Jordan said. “What has surprised me is where the creative conversation took the students,” he said. “Some of their responses (art pieces) are remarkable in their own right.”

The Call and Response Exhibit will run through May 10 in the Sella-Granata Gallery in 109 Woods Hall. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free of charge.

color portraits of individual faces
“Colors of Music,” by Turner Woods.