PHOTOGRAPHER MELANIE PARENT TAKES US ON A JOURNEY TO “A DISTANCE NEARER HOME” IN HER UPCOMING ARTSPACE SOLO EXHIBITION
Artist Melanie Parent was afraid to step out of her front door, afraid to see what lay beyond her driveway, what was happening down her road. She struggled with fear and anxiety and barely left her house for several years. Her husband gave her a camera, and with it came the courage to use her Art to reframe the world of her Northwest Louisiana home in a way that she hopes will help others see this part of the world differently—warmer and more honestly. On Thursday, July 12, 2018 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Parent invites you to muster the courage to step in to distant places nearer your Northwest Louisiana Home—abandoned farm houses, forgotten front porches, snow in the deep ruts of a field, even empty grocery store aisles—and join her at ARTSPACE at 708 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport for the opening of, A Distance Nearer Home.
Parent’s exhibition title takes its inspiration from Robert Frost’s poem, “Desert Places,” about a solitary place of blank spaces, emptiness and loneliness. The isolated, searching, almost dream-like feel of the photographs in this show invite the viewer to be courageous, to explore, to find moments of daylight on a snowy evening, and to value places nearer our Northwest Louisiana home. Parent’s photographs say slow down, take a long look and really see the the people and places that you speed past in your everyday frenzies.
Local Academy Award Winning Animation Director William Joyce is a collector of Parent’s work. Joyce says, “Mellie Parent’s photography beautifully captures a vanishing part of Louisiana and its culture. The cotton fields, the small towns, the ramshackle field houses, the once grand mansions are made wondrous and haunting by her camera. She does not sentimentalize the past. Her work is lyrical but honest, blunt, truthful. I think her work will have a lasting impact on how we remember our past. I think she is an important new voice in photography.”
Parent seldom photographs people, though there will be a few people in her upcoming ARTSPACE exhibition. She prefers to capture lonely, dream-like landscapes that evoke a sense of loneliness and a longing for a place. These are familiar emotions to her, having grown up in poverty. Parent loves history, remembering long drives through the country with her parents and grandparents and the historical homestead in which she grew up.
“I hope that through my photographs—whether of a solitary lady on an empty rural grocery aisle or of a storefront taken through my rain-soaked camera lens--people will be drawn in,” said Parent. “I want to evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing for something forgotten and precious through what I capture with my camera. I want people to see things that they see everyday in a different way, and not to fear their own desert places” added Parent.
While Parent exhibits her photography upstairs, the six Northwest Louisiana ARTSPACE Summer Studio Artists—John Daniel, Kristi-Maria Hardy, Madeline Mara, Paige Powell, Sherry Tamburo and Mike Torma—will continue to demonstrate how they do what they do with fiber art, pattern making and fashion design, realism painting, painting using alcohol inks, combining digital and traditional art and creating landscape representations reflecting contemporary ideology.
It’s a sizzling summer at ARTSPACE at 708 Texas St. In downtown Shreveport. Go “A Distance Nearer Home” to see Melanie Parent’s evocative photographic images Thursday, July 12 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM and enjoy cool crafted culinary snacks and cocktails (cash bar) by Parish Taceaux. It’s FREE and open to the public.