Wandering through art

Larry Stuart's narrative photos featured in Park Place Arts

ANDERSON -- Larry Stuart remembers being at a workshop where a National Geographic photographer presented a challenge for attendees.

If the photographer captures an image of a woman in the Middle East wearing a burqa, Westerners naturally latch onto it. The picture is immediately interesting because it depicts something outside of their version of normal.

The challenge for photographers at home is to see their environment anew.

“Yeah, there are some interesting places I’ve been to, but there are some places that are right here in Madison County that I drive by every day,” Stuart said. “So that’s my challenge.”

It’s a challenge he frequently takes, and from now until June 11, he’s sharing a chunk of his journey with “Wander Lines: A Photography Exhibit” at Park Place Arts, 515 E. Eighth St.

The show’s name derives from Stuart’s imagination as a child. Growing up, he pretended that he left behind a red line that indicated everywhere he’d gone.

The idea of creating wander lines on his map of life carried into adulthood, and a piece of it can be viewed in the 20 black-and-white images displayed at Park Place Arts.

“I tell people sometimes that I’m looking for ghosts,” Stuart said. “I don’t know that I’m always successful with every image that way, but if I looked at it as a whole, I think that’s what I would see.”

The exhibit features stills of nature, as well as remnants of important objects, like decrepit houses and an old gas pump, that have been overgrown with brush.

None of the photos feature people, but many show the residual presence of humans.

“I think without people, you allow the viewer to create their own idea,” Park Place Arts owner Eliot Reed said. “They can get into the image and do their own thing rather than there being a person that’s kind of framing the narrative a little bit.”

Reed usually shoots nature using straight photography, a style that depicts a scene in detail without much post-production. His photos are more documentary, a sharp contrast to Stuart’s desire for viewers to draw from their own emotions.

Stuart said he pays homage to photographers of the past. His images are rooted in history and when he looks at them, he sees what and who used to be there.

“And sometimes,” he said, “I take a picture just because it looks cool.”

Park Place Arts is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

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If you go

What: Wander Lines: A Photography Exhibit by Larry Stuart

Where: Park Place Arts, 515 E. Eighth St., Anderson

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday until June 11

Cost: Free