The Overture Center for the Arts now features two impressive new photo exhibits with Ida Wyman’s “The Chords of Memory” and Kevin Miyazaki’s “Camp Home.” Both photographers share bodies of work that make poignant commentaries on racial, social and political issues in the United States.
Miyazaki, in part exploring his own family history, documents the reuse of World War II Japanese internment camps in the United States. The photographs feature crisp, clear images: peeling wallpaper, lines of myriad tools, an elegant mantelpiece setting and so on. Miyazaki contrasts old and new, pastoral and elegant, dirty and clean.
“Camp Home” encourages viewers to consider the history of buildings and the stories that contain them, the contrast between privilege and restriction and how buildings can speak to both under the right circumstances.
Wyman’s “The Chords of Memory” also takes a straightforward approach to making a strong impression. Her photographs seem to capture small moments and to draw out their significance.
Spanning decades, Wyman captures people in a range of circumstances: shaving, writing, holding pencils with their feet or waiting to catch an arriving bus.
Although varied in subject, location and time, there seems to be continuity throughout the exhibit. Wyman plays with shadow and perspective, and the photographs consistently promote curiosity in the lives of the subjects and the situations that gave them life.
In “Standing Ladder, Kneeling Man,” a photograph featuring a painter next to a ladder, Wyman offers her own commentary. The card description read, “I smiled at the incongruity of the scene. It seemed to me that the ladder was idle, but waiting for those feet to climb the steps … Can you anthropomorphize ladders?”
Wyman’s own commentary provides yet more insight into her vision of the world. Both she and Miyazaki provide wonderful commentary with these exhibits, making a lasting impression on those lucky enough to experience them.