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Mariboe Gallery Exhibit: The Elizabeth Series

Uma Mani'20, Staff Writer

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Jack Null’18

Nancy Mcentee’s photography exhibit, The Elizabeth Series, an extended portrait of her daughter, Elizabeth, over the course of 17 years, opened in the Mariboe Gallery on Oct. 21.  Mcentee, who has a Bachelor and Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Bard College, first began her project when her daughter was four. From the beginning, Mcentee put great significance into each photo, knowing that the photos would later form a series. Her criteria for each image was its ability to convey a message in a subtle manner. Mcentee believes every photograph should be multilayered, but not overly sentimental or dramatic, and fit into the overarching theme of family and the brevity of life.

The first photographs – snapshots from Elizabeth’s childhood or moments that reminded Mcentee of her own childhood – were in black and white. Mcentee did not experiment with color until she moved to Ireland for her residency, bringing Elizabeth with her.  One of the images in the series is a close-up of Elizabeth’s face, pressed against a peat bog.  In the photograph, the bright sky and Elizabeth’s lively face are starkly contrasted with the deep black and brown hues of the bog.  It was in this photograph that Mcentee first embraced color and explored its powerful effects in photography. The image was also an example of one of the deeper themes in her photographs, the relationship between life and death.  In another image, Elizabeth stands in a field looking directly at the camera with three cardboard clouds hanging above her.  The artificiality of the clouds reflects the emphasis of appearance in today’s society, especially among the youth.  Mcentee said that the photographs of Elizabeth, especially later on in the series, were “a vehicle for larger issues.”

“I can communicate how I feel or communicate issues that are important that everybody can relate to. It’s a way to document my life, I guess, and have a proof of existence,” Mcentee said.

Students were fascinated by the progression of portraits in the series.

“I thought the exhibit was really interesting.  I liked how I could see Elizabeth grow up and how the style of photography changed,” Mia Huang ’20 said.

 

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Mariboe Gallery Exhibit: The Elizabeth Series