The current Conkling Gallery artist is Areca Roe, an MSU associate professor in the art department. Conkling is a professional touring exhibit space that houses work by graduate students, faculty, and other artists. For Roe, this is her first solo gallery in the space. The gallery, Symbiotic, will be available for viewing from Oct. 3 until Nov. 4.
Using three-dimensional lenticular pictures and film, Roe combines three distinct bodies of work in this exhibition to examine how people attempt to connect with nature while accepting its limitations.
When coming up with the show’s title, she thought a lot about the human relationship to the natural world. That relationship can be positive, negative, or neutral. Thus, she settled on Symbiotic, which refers to a relationship “characterized by, living in, or being a close physical association between two or more dissimilar organisms.”
“The work in the show references human interaction with the natural world. And the show’s work has plants native to Minnesota,” said Roe. “I have a big collection of nature pattern fabrics, and I incorporate those into a lot of my work to sort of reference the home or the domestic.”
The thing that makes these photographs unique is the illusion her photos give off to the viewer. These illusions are done by taking multiple images and layering them on top of one another.
“I have been obsessed with 3D photography and wanted to incorporate it into this show. There is a whole process involved,” said Roe. “You take 36 images on a rail in order to achieve the different perspectives and achieve the 3-D effect. This took me about a month or two to learn with a lot of trial and error.”
In addition to nature, she incorporated her family into her work. In one of the images, she is seen with her back facing the camera and hugging her child.
“There are some images of birches and willows. I incorporated my own kids into the scene,” said Roe. “When creating those images, I thought about the legacy we’re leaving children regarding the natural world or climate crisis and how we are not living up to our obligations. In a way, I am projecting them or trying to nurture them in those frames.”
Roe first got into art when she was 14. It was not until she took a class on the skill that she fell in love with photography.
“I borrowed my parents’ cameras and just started photographing. I then got into the dark room in high school and fell in love with photography specifically,” said Roe. “I’d always been interested in art, but photography became my main medium.”
A few things about the medium stuck out to Roe.
“I like the idea that it’s freezing a moment or memory in time. You can sit and study it in depth. I like that sort of immediacy of changing things and also the relationship to reality,” said Roe. “I like how quickly you can manipulate an image or a scene just by changing the moment and changing your perspective. A photograph is not necessarily true or real, but it usually has some basis in reality.”
Header Photo: Roe combines the influences of nature and family in order to create an environmentally aware series, which she named Symbiotic as a representation of the relationship the two should have. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Lauren Viska at firstname.lastname@example.org