The “Land of Dreams” photography exhibit will open Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Union-Zukowski Lobby and Gallery in the Reeves Fine Arts Building, and will run through Saturday, Oct. 24. The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is a prelude to the 25th Southern Writers Symposium, which will be held on Oct. 23 and 24 at Methodist University. The photography exhibit will also be part of a creative writing contest open to MU students.
Photographer Bryce Lankard’s “Land of Dreams” exhibit captures 20 years of pre-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and the Gulf South life.
“With its harmony, strife, despair and its multitude of vibrant cultural influences, there is no other place anywhere quite like New Orleans,” Lankard said. “So much of the culture that informs America was spawned here. It is, in the words of Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘the land of dreams, the best place I have ever seen.’ The photographs in this exhibition are a result of twenty years of wide-eyed wonder and fascination and love for this most amazing of American cities. … For a city that is so hard to define, I have attempted to capture its cultural collage in the tone and mood they inspire in me.”
Lankard is a North Carolina native and graduate of UNC–Chapel HiIl. In 1995, he co-founded Tribe Magazine in New Orleans, serving as creative director. He moved to New York City for nine years and then returned to New Orleans in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, where he co-founded the nonprofit New Orleans Photo Alliance. Since returning to North Carolina in 2009, he has lectured widely and taught classes at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, N.C. Lankard developed the FRANK: In Focus photography festival that took place throughout the Triangle in Fall 2012.
“The core of my photography is anchored in the documentary tradition,” Lankard said. “I have always been attracted by the emotional reactions to the world around me that I have had as a human, and as an American, albeit one with an admittedly Southern persuasion. Growing up in the heart of the Bible Belt and living in the rapidly evolving world at the end of a millennium, I have been filled with a sense of wonder and curiosity.”
Lankard will be on hand at the opening night of the Southern Writers Symposium, Oct. 23, to answer questions about his exhibit. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. in the Union-Zukowski Lobby and Gallery, with a reception to follow.
Symposium Director Brenda Jernigan said the photography exhibit ties in to the symposium’s history of Southern culture and acknowledges the extent that photographs and images inspire writing. The English Department will also incorporate the exhibit into student assignments during the coming weeks.
“It’s important for us to mark this anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and to use imagery to evoke creative endeavors,” Jernigan said.
For more information on the Southern Writers Symposium, visit methodist.edu/sws.
Photo by Lynda Ward / Visual-Stories