The ties that bind: Photography exhibit highlights home, community

HUNTINGDON – A photography exhibit currently on display at Juniata College explores themes of family, traditions and stories.

“Migrations,” the photography exhibit of Patricia Howard, an assistant professor of art at Juniata College, is on display at the college’s Museum of Art through Feb. 8.

The museum reopens Monday, with the resuming of classes after winter break.

Howard, a member of the faculty since 2008 who holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in fine arts from Penn State, is also a Pennsylvania Artist in Residence for the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and Galaxy/Arts in Education, and an instructor for a photography course through Penn State University’s Continuing Education.

The exhibit showcases individual images and several photographic series.

Howard is “a wonderful photographer, so we were very happy to have her work in the gallery,” said Judy Maloney, director of the art museum and a lecturer in art history.

“While the photographs and stories in this show are personal, it is my intent that they relate to a larger theme of home and community and sometimes change, and what that may mean to different people,” Howard said.

The series “Spencer, Indiana: Eight Houses,” came from a trip in the summer of 2013 to explore the life of her mother, Elizabeth Proctor, 88, of Delaware, and the homes she lived in as a child in Spencer, Indiana.

The series features vignettes with photographs of eight of the homes where her mother lived, including the now-abandoned farmhouse that Howard’s grandfather, Ray Proctor, built. It was where Elizabeth had 13 cats, because people would abandon them on the nearby roadway.

As an only child, she thought of them as her brothers and sisters, the vignette reads.

“It was my intent that these [visual and written] impressions convey a sense of her life and what it was like in the 1930s and 1940s,” Howard said.

Photos in the series include personal items belonging to her family, such as dolls and a wool coat, Howard said.

The accompanying stories in the series charmed Maloney, who was expecting simple captions, but got “little miniature stories,” which are “really quirky and sweet,” she said.

In part, the show explores what holds “families together and the traditions and the stories,” and people can relate to “the stories and the desire to go back and see what life was like for their parents,” Maloney said.

The series, “We Mostly Just Sit: The Grange Fair Encampment,” captures parts of the 140-year-old Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair in Centre Hall.

“These images convey a community which comes together once a year as part of the last tenting fair in the United States. The way that this community is housed in tents ties into the idea of a temporary existence and thus the ‘Migrations’ theme,” Howard said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.