By Lauren Ebben:
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Southern Light Gallery, founder and photographic imagemaker, Robert Hirsch spoke about his photography piece, “World in a Jar: War and Trauma,” in the Oak Room of the Student Union building on Oct. 26.
The audience, a healthy mixture of both young and old, listened as Hirsch, dressed in a red and black plaid shirt with black pants and a small black hat on his head, explained one of his most well known visual pieces.
“World in a Jar: War and Trauma is a freeform and social montage that rethinks the customary linear narrative by offering a supermarket of moveable images,” he said, against a slideshow background exhibiting images from this display.
A stunning presentation of over 1,000 jars, each with its own individual picture, “World in a Jar” visualizes and explores society and, ultimately, the nature of evil, said Hirsch.
“The project is rooted in allegory and poetic archetypes,” he said. “It maps how history and social values have formed my life and, in turn, my artistic practice.” The catalyst for the creation of this piece was the 9/11 attacks, according to Hirsch.
“I was actually supposed to be in lower Manhattan on 9/11 for a New York State art council meeting but I skipped out of it,” he said. “Right after 9/11, there was a group of artists in the city that asked other artists to respond to what had happened. I had an image that I made in Iceland that just reminded me of what happened in New York so I sent it in and it got a big response.”
Previously the executive director of CEPA Gallery, Hirsch is now director of Light Research in Buffalo, New York, as well as a curator, historian and writer, having written a number of textbooks on photography, some of which have multiple editions.
Other exhibits of Hirsch’s include the Architecture of Texas Landscape which is currently on display in the the Southern Light Gallery, located on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons on the Washington