By Andrea Godoy
There is a deliberateness in his images. A shadow is not there by accident or coincidence. The streaks of sweat that crisscross the subject’s face are noticeable because he wants them to be noticed. It’s as if the emotions captured on film transport the viewer to that specific point in time. Each picture tells a story; not just random snapshots, but an entire canvas is covered with one scene, each one more impressive than the last. Each is focused on the same theme. Aftermath.
Joel Meyerowitz was the only photographer who was able to get access to Ground Zero immediately following the attacks of 9/11. His collection of large-format images was released to the public five years after the attack. Amarillo College’s Student Government Association, in partnership with the Amarillo Museum of Art, is hosting Meyerowitz’s collection for the first time in Texas.
On Tuesday, the SGA hosted a lecture on Meyerowitz by AC photography instructor Rene West. “Meyerowitz did not stumble into the forbidden city,” West said. Like all artistic ventures, Meyerowitz followed a thought process to get the shot he wanted.
“I wanted people to know who he was, not just see these pictures,” West said. Meyerowitz was introduced to photography when he was 10 years old, she said. He began his career as a photographer shooting “street photography.” In the early 1960s, he would attend parades and shoot members of the audience. West explained in her lecture that many street photographers would use that technique because they were able to become invisible.
That invisibility would serve Meyerowitz well while he was photographing Ground Zero. “He had permission from politicians to be at the site, but never from the police,” West said. “They considered that area a crime scene and people consistently got kicked out.” Meyerowitz was determined to get the shots, however. He couldn’t just walk in with his camera.
“He said he had to look the part,” West said. “First he made sure he was always in uniform, backwards cap, respirator, duct-taped pant legs. He said, ‘I also got really good at forging workers passes.’”
SGA Vice President Kim Silvia said this project was a fascinating process. “It is absolutely amazing what he has done and the information that Rene gave today,” she said.
The traveling collection will be on display at AMoA through Dec. 31. Shelly Sparks, a radio- TV major, said of Meyerowitz’s image, “A wounded welder,” “You can see how tired and distressed he is. The colors and use of shadow are just amazing.”
The exhibit is part of Amarillo College’s year-long institutional theme. “There is a connection between the past and present in these pictures,” said photography major Zachary Quiroz. “They tell their own story. There is emotion in every picture.”
Published: Wednesday, November 09, 2011