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Photo exhibit captures cultural landscape of South

Nov. 28, 2006

Kelly Moore/Lariat staff
Lori Lutz of Waco looks at photographs in Dr. Clark Baker's exhibit Monday afternoon in the Mayborn Museum Complex. The exhibit, "Images of Myth and Reality: Texas and the South", is open until Jan. 25.


A lone cannon sits out on an empty field. Black women sit in a church with elaborate hats adorning their heads.

The Mayborn Museum Complex opened a new exhibit by Dr. Clark Baker, associate professor of journalism and department chairman, on Nov. 16.

The exhibit, "Images of Myth and Reality: Texas and the South," was originally a part of the American Studies Association of Texas's 50th annual conference, said Dr. Doug Ferdon, associate professor of journalism and director of the American Studies Program.

This year's conference theme focused on images of Southwest Texas.

Baker said he has been taking photographs since his uncle gave him a camera at the age of 10 and taught him the rudiments of the craft, he said.

The pictures in the exhibit were taken over a span of 15 years, during which Baker traveled all over the South.

The collection includes hundreds of photos, but the museum display was narrowed to 24.

"I think the hardest part is editing them into something coherent," Baker said. "It's hard to avoid photos that speak to what outsiders know to be the South."

Baker said he did not originally plan for his work to be exhibited.

The project began in Alabama and continued as he traveled, carrying over into his move to Baylor. He said his purpose was in part to express the deep South.

"I can't help but be inspired by that region," he said.

The entire collection is made up of black and white photos, his favorite medium.

"I always seem to return to black and white when I have that luxury," he said.

The use of black and white in this exhibit is a fitting medium for this style of photography said Sarah Levine, director of marketing for the Mayborn Museum Complex.

"Pictures become more dramatic in black and white than they do in color," Levine said. "It shows there's still a kind of graciousness there."

The exhibit shows a cultural and physical landscape of Texas and the South, including religion, race issues, land and other themes, said Frankie Pack, coordinator of changing exhibits for the Mayborn Museum Complex.

"I think it fits nicely with the museum's mission of presenting local history by offering a unique look at images of Texas and the South," she said.

Baker said he chose the name for his exhibit because his goal was to portray the South as something "not so one-dimensional as people seem to think."

The Mayborn Museum agreed to put up the images in a public exhibit hall so they would be open to more viewers that the conference area would allow, Pack said.

"It's a great and wonderful resource to be able to display works from local professors," Pack said.

"It established a good working relationship and is convenient as well."

The exhibit will be open until Jan. 25. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for senior adults and $4 for children.

Baylor faculty and staff will be given free admission for themselves and their families Thursday.

Admission is free for students.