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Senior’s Exhibition in Swirbul Explores the Story Images Tell About Afghanistan

By The Delphian Staff

Senior Katie Farkas, an art major, has an exhibition until October 1 in Swirbul Library Gallery of

Senior Katie Farkas at her September 6 reception in Swirbul Library Gallery. Photo by Liza Burby

her independent study/research project, “The Story Images Tell: Afghanistan in 2008.” She said it’s an exploration of images of conflict in the Middle East and who and what can influence the interpretation of these images.

“Historically, photography has been looked at as a primary source; it captures the reality of an event and its objective,” she said. “Photographers, publishing companies and social media all have a lot of influence on the content of the images and how they are read, which can drastically change the meaning of the image.”

Farkas said she wanted to experiment with her own work after researching how images can be read by a viewer and who controls what images are shown, what context they are placed in, what captions and articles and images are paired together, and how that can change the meaning or intention of an image. The pieces in her show are the result of that.

“I wanted to reflect on 2008 in Afghanistan, reflect on the hundreds of images I looked at, the news articles and headlines I've read through, and where I was during that year,” she said. “My goal is to explore how images of the War on Terror intersected with my life and experiences in 2008. The War on Terror as a whole is, for me, intangible and confusing. It was in and out of the media spotlight throughout my entire childhood. The confusion of news and media as a child is what I aim to show in my pieces.”

Farkas added, “We are all stuck within a world of image overload and it’s extremely hard to make sense of it and even acknowledge it at all. My work reflects this struggle as an artist to create meaningful work that not only acknowledges but reacts to the world around me and the world that I grew up in.”

Katie Farkas, Easter (2022) Digital Print, 11.5 x 15 inches. Courtesy of Katie Farkas

Farkas worked on this project with Hannah Allen, an associate professor of art and art history in the College of Arts and Sciences. Allen said, “Artists strive to make original artworks that are personal and authentic while simultaneously reaching beyond the personal to address collective concerns. In fall 2021, I agreed to work with Katie on an independent study that focused on the history of photography, specifically iconic war photography. Her final exhibition beautifully demonstrates the relationship between art-making and research. The exhibition is thoughtful and engaging and her artwork successfully responds to works made by other artists and journalists.”

The show has been on display in Swirbul since August 29 and there was a reception on September 6.

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