by Jenniffer Wardell
BOUNTIFUL—The magic of travel is a combination of the places we go and the people that fill them.
A variety of photographers have come together to bring the full experience of travel to the Bountiful Davis Art Center. In two exhibits running now through Feb. 3, the two exhibits take visitors around the world and introduce them to a variety of people who make those places home. Together, the experience offers a beautifully transporting look at just how big the world is.
The central gallery is the home of “All Those Who Wander: The World By Lens,” a combined exhibit featuring photographs of the world and the people exploring it. Most of the focus is on the scenery in Josh Ruchty and Parker Alec Cross’s work, gorgeous photographs that capture the beauty and majesty of mountains all around the world.
Ruchty gives viewers the experience of someone on the ground or climbing mountains, bringing them inside caves and alongside sheer faces next to the climbers captured in the photographs. His glorious “Balanced Breakfast,” stretched across three panels, feels like the reward a climber gives themselves after reaching the top.
Cross, on the other hand, pulls back enough distance to offer the widest sweep of majesty that he can. His photographs encompass the powerful scope of entire mountainsides, softened by distant fringes of trees and graceful waterfalls. Even when he moves closer to his subjects, his photographs have the same sense of scope and power.
Jackson Hendry is clearly drawn to the light in the places he visits, whether it’s the wide sweep of a sunset or the glittering scope of stars swirling above desert mountains. His “Camp Fire” has a lot of the same beauty and power, giving the crackling flames the same wild energy as the full scope of nature itself. His other photographs take full advantage of sunlight, giving the mountains a gentle glow or illuminating all the fine details of a seguro.
Carl Oelerich prefers to focus on people in their environments, chronicling the lives lived in the places he travels. Many of his black-and-white photographs included in this exhibit are from Cuba, showing people walking the streets and rolling the cigars the country is famous for. He captures the hardship of the people there with care and attention, but it’s not all sorrow. The wonderful good humor on the face of Modesto in “Modesto and his horse, Vinales, Cuba,” radiates through the frame to touch anyone who sees it.
The people continue in the upstairs side gallery as well. That’s the home of Jon Bouwhuis’s charming exhibit, “Faces from Places.” The exhibit is a collection of portraits Bowhuis has met from all around the world, covering a wide variety of ages and countries. The children are the most immediately eye catching, including smiling, bright-eyed little girls from both Myanmar and China, but the older people are fascinating because you can see such stories on their faces.
The cultural details are equally intriguing, including a young woman and a girl from Thailand whose necks have been stretched by traditional rings. For every example of the differences between cultures, however, there’s another photograph that highlights the power of human connection. One of the best is of a group of what look to be Laotian monks, walking away from the camera.
One, however, has turned around to look back at Bouwhuis, and the surprise and pleasure on his face is universal. It’s a moment of human connection, made across time and thousands of miles.
(“Lean’n,” by Josh Ruchty. Photo by Jenniffer Wardell)