Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Everything about my first photography exhibition was fitting.

  • It took place in my hometown.
  • It took place in the community center that could be credited for the start of my global knowledge and interest.
  • It was a digital display, the medium in which I create.
  • I displayed images in an order that reflected my life philosophy.
  • The images represented all the continents I've been fortunate enough to experience.
  • The gallery was named after my late grandfather.
  • I attended the opening night virtually.
  • My best friend did the technical support to help me experience the night from my apartment in Boston.
First photography exhibition in Wabash, Indiana attending via Skype, virtually, Honeywell Center
First photography exhibition in Wabash, Indiana attending via Skype, virtually, Honeywell Center

Thought it wasn't my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an "art major" and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had finally exhibited work always meant for others' eyes.

After filming a long innovation meeting at work, I raced from the classrooms to my apartment in Beacon Hill. Boston Common was orange with slanting light. My friend Hayley Skyped me in about 30 minutes before the event started, to avoid any technical-bumble when it was my time to speak. In the search for a good backdrop with good lighting, I landed on the view from my apartment window: the State House at sunset. As people filed into the gallery, they could see the sun setting over Boston's golden dome on the projector before them. Gallery manager Andrea Zwiebel began introducing the exhibition and started the 3-artist Q&A with me (while the internet was still working), and I slid into place in front of the State House image, appearing in real time but not in real life. Here is my portion as I experienced it virtually.

People looked like blobs. I could only decipher the words of the person closest to the computer. But I was thrilled the Internet made this possible, as it continues to do for my work day in, day out.

Unfortunately, I didn't quite feel the impact I desired from the experience in totality. It's still a little surreal to believe that for a month, my images were on display in the cultural epicenter of my hometown. I got to visit the actual exhibition once, but that visit was also a blur with two toddlers running around and family photos commencing outside soon after my arrival. I was also not able to complete the full installation as I had imagined it, with an accompanying digital and physical guide that would reveal backstories and locations of the images.

And while I could have predicted these realities, based on my track record of doing anything alongside working at TGS, I'm happy that I have this experience under my belt and now have a new bar to meet the next time around. I'm always quite aware of the Internet's great capabilities as well as its major inadequacies compared to the real thing. It's almost as though these interwebs just foster a heightened sense of FOMO, as we are better aware of what we are missing. And as the article I just finished reading stated, "be thickly in one place, not thinly everywhere," I can't be surprised that I don't feel the full impact of being where I wasn't.

The following slideshow is the digital display of my images from the gallery, followed by the portrait from my bio and snapshots from the opening night in Wabash, Indiana.

I'd like to give a special thanks to everyone who helped make this opportunity possible, from curator and gallery manager Andrea Zwiebel to my parents for their selection help and transportation to Hayley Beauchamp Shaw for enabling my participation in the opening night.

Featured image by Margie Clark