“Uncommon Beauty,” on view at Atlanta’s Studio 905 on Juniper, celebrates unusual approaches to photography by 10 emerging artists. Two charities—Airline Ambassadors and Making the Grade: Hope for African Youth—will receive 10% of the sales from the show, helping to give children around the globe opportunities for a better life, better education, and better health. The show also features accompanying programming, including a benefit raffle and a panel discussion on feminine beauty.
Thomas Dodd, whose work is included in the show, takes as his motto “All Bodies are Beautiful”—which is also the title of his series on view. Dodd writes, “This series challenges the standards of ‘healthy and desirable’ body types and how they are viewed in society while depicting every size and shape of the female form.” The variations of his models include individuals who are commonly overlooked or ignored by popular culture, and challenge societal conceptions and expectations, from the shapely women in The Somnambulist and Inked Goddess (both 2014) to the sorrowful ones in The Letter and Mummer (both 2014). Much of his work includes esoteric digital manipulation, as with Dogma (2014), in which the upper portion of his model’s head dissolves into the flecked and textured atmosphere of the natural outdoor space that surrounds her.
Brent Walker’s art also documents economically or socially marginalized people: in his series “The Hidden South,” Walker photographs individuals in their daily lives. He includes brief interviews or explanatory notes that describe the circumstances in which they live or how he met them. His 2014 portrait, Ella, depicts a young woman who is suffering from severe hardships caused or exacerbated by drug and alcohol dependency. Ella’s son lives with her parents as she is incapable of meeting his needs. But Walker, who has also suffered in similar ways, displays his empathy and shows not only his subject’s plight, but also her beauty and humanity. Beverly (2014) shows a young African-American woman vamping for the camera by an oak tree. She appears to be guarded about her life, but in the accompanying text reveals one tragic incident.
Dodd and Walker’s work, like that of photographers such as Gillian Duckett and Chilli-O (both of whose work is also on view in “Uncommon Beauty”), shows the lives of people not often seen on the other side of camera lenses. By depicting the otherwise-invisible beauties of the everyday, they show the potential of art to enlighten and enliven the world.
“Uncommon Beauty” is on view at Studio 905 on Juniper, Atlanta, Oct. 17–Nov. 15, 2014.