“Net” by Emily Evans Sloan
Poignant stories of connection between family, friends and self are woven through the images in the current exhibit, “The Life We Live” at the Society for Contemporary Photography (SCP) Gallery in the Shops at Union Hill.
“With these works, the photographers reveal their personal, insightful and emotional connections to their subjects,” said Angie Jennings, SCP president and exhibit curator. “Our identity and place in life belong in large part to those connections, and to our powerful need to stay connected.”
Through black and white and color imagery, Kansas City-based photographers Jon Onstot, Lea Murphy, David Pugh, Dan Videtich, Angie Jennings and Emily Evans Sloan explore the rich narratives that can emerge from seemingly simple moments of everyday life.
The six artists offer a view through the window, while simultaneously compelling us to sit at the table and experience what they’ve observed. Whether embraced, disregarded — or seized with every breath, the deep-rooted connections in these photographs often take place and intensify in silence — without words, touch or eye contact.
In powerful images of his 96-year-old mother, Jon Onstot captures the mutual trust and love the two share while also laying bare her anguish, as she struggles to maintain connection with the life she’s known.
In his documentary series “Longing and Belonging,” Dan Videtich has chronicled both connection and disconnection between his subjects.
In “Gemini Mowers,” an older couple, dressed identically, push lawn mowers side by side in silence across their front yard. Though physically separated by the work at hand, their bond, established over decades, is tangible and palpable.
In “Jeff and Amy,” Videtich photographed a young couple at their suburban home. The woman is engaged with her phone on the front porch, while her partner leans against a car in the driveway. In contrast to “Gemini Mowers,” the void of connection between them is evident.
Detachment is also a theme in Jennings’ “They Seemed Disconnected in Love not Love” from her series “Modern Couples.” The two young couples in the image appear connected on obvious levels, but a sense of distance overshadows. One couple holds hands as they walk down a city sidewalk together, yet their faces reveal a vacuum of mental and emotional intimacy. The other couple kisses, while he simultaneously checks his cell phone for the next call or text.
“With both couples, their body language contradicts what is seen on the surface,” Jennings notes. “They are half there, and their minds and spirits are in different places than their bodies.”
Focused on the intricacies and dynamics of bonds with loved ones, Emily Evans Sloan began photographing her own family, including her six children, in the early 1980s. In addition to a selection of images from this long-term photo story, the show also features images of Sloan’s childhood home, including the family swimming pool onto which she has projected images of herself and her siblings playing.
“I have learned to trust my vision in order to capture moments of human exchanges,” Sloan says. “I explore themes of joy, loss, perception and memory and am most drawn to the mundane moments that are often overlooked or dismissed. These slices of life are what I find to be the most layered and rich. They are perfectly imperfect.”
“The Life We Live” continues at the Society for Contemporary Photography Gallery in the Shops at Union Hill, 2988 Gillham Rd., through Dec. 31. Hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday; 3 to 8 p.m. First Fridays; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday or by appointment. This exhibit will also be open from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 31. For more information, (816) 807-4793 or kcscp.org.