Lecture enlightens on war

Karla Rendon
Arts Editor

The Civil War, history and photographic approaches were all hot topics at the University’s “Conversation with the Photographer” on May 8 at the Campus Center.

Photographer Eliot Dudik, Professor of English William Cook and Media and Public Affairs Liaison for the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Gregory Cummings all discussed their opinions to an audience of 35 on the American Civil War in wake of Dudik’s reception for his series, “Broken Land.”

“Broken Land” features scenic photographs of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War’s reenactment of the battle, as well as areas that are associated with that war.

“It started as two entries for me,” Dudik said. “One was the fascination of war since I was a young child and there was a fear of war that eventually lead to a fascination of it.”

“Also because I moved to South Carolina, where just about every conversation surround the Civil War,” he said.

Cook, who wrote a reflection essay on the exhibit, agreed with Dudik that South Carolina is heavily associated with the Civil War.

“Here in California, you don’t really have a sense of how the war has impacted the government, where in places like South Carolina, especially if you’re from Charleston, it is ever present,” Cook said.

Although the Civil War is associated with the South, Dudik informed the audience that there were various battles in western territories.

Colorado, New Mexico and South Dakota were settings that hosted the American Civil War.

“There are a few battlefields here in the west that many people don’t know about,” Dudik said.

“I hope I can get out there to photograph those landscapes to make the project more national,” he said.

“One of my goals for this project is to bring the Civil War beyond the South and look at it as a nation,” he said.

Junior sociology major Niall Harrison found the conversation informative and enjoyed it being open for discussion.

“I’ve actually done some previous research on the photographer and it was really neat to piece some of the interviews I read online with what he had to say,” Harrison said.

“It was definitely more interesting to hear what he had to say straight from his mouth rather than having to read it online,” he said.

Dudik’s approach to taking his photographs raised questions from the audience.

With the pictures being large in width and length, he explained how he used negatives over digital photographs.

“I used large negatives which allowed me to make these large prints and still retain the details,” he said.

As for his photographs having a black line in the middle giving an illusion of two photographs combined to make one photograph, Dudik explained how and why he used two sheets of film per photo.

“The photographs do look like depicts and they’re presented as depicts but they were created as single photographs,” Dudik said.

“It just happens to be two sheets of film so when they are separated, processed and brought back together again, they resembled this concept in mind that was meant to show a divided country and nation,” he said.

“These are American diptychs,” Cook wrote in his reflection essay.

“They call to mind our past not only of the Confederate and Union spirits that died here, but the spirits of the Native tribes whose souls were lost to minds cloaked in conquest…”

Dudik’s exhibit for “Broken Land” will be displayed at the Irene Carlson Gallery until May 30.

Karla Rendon can be reached at karla.rendon@laverne.edu.

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Faculty members, students and visitors discussed photographer Eliot Dudik’s landscape photographs depicting American history at the “Broken Land” reception May 8 in the Irene Carlson Gallery.