Atlanta-based photographer/filmmaker Melissa Alexander spoke to Lander University art students Tuesday at the Arts Center of Greenwood about her pandemic documentary photo series — Pull Up Sessions.
It’s on view through March 27.
Forty or so images, printed on Rad Grafix Vinyl are on view in the main gallery. In the Pull Up Sessions, Alexander photographed portraits of friends and strangers in her West End neighborhood during the novel coronavirus lockdown in 2020.
In February, Alexander shared with the Index-Journal about the photo project.
“The challenge was not to get physically close to people while they were talking, and on top of that, masks,” Alexander explained in that earlier interview, noting the project idea was spontaneous when a friend stopped by her house during the pandemic.
“Last March, I just wanted to see somebody,” Alexander told the Lander art students. “This project was about connecting.”
For a number of the Lander art students, Tuesday’s gallery visit and artist’s talk was a first in many, many months during the pandemic, according to associate professor of art and art department chairwoman Sandy Singletary.
People signed up for Alexander’s pull-up portrait sessions via social media.
During the process, Alexander said she learned a lot about what people were coping with during the pandemic, including isolation and divorce.
The series, Alexander said, has since led to other photo and work opportunities for her, including an open-air installation in Atlanta earlier this year.
“This project made me think differently about my approach to the person on the opposite side of the lens from me,” Alexander said, during her artist’s talk, noting trust between the photographer and subject is key to a meaningful image.
Sylvia Martin, Arts Center of Greenwood executive director, said the portrait series “is like tiny little windows.”
“In a way, these vinyl prints directly on the wall make you feel like you are more connected to the images,” Martin said. “It’s almost like you are on the photoshoot with these people.”