The past meets the present at the Lloyd Library and Museum’s latest exhibition Visions of Nature across Time and Place.
See the natural wonder of a bumblebee perched on a flower, milky light reflected on a water stream, a sun-dusted dandelion and more captured by local photographers Rick Conner and TJ Vissing at The Nature Conservancy in Ohio.
Their work will be shown Sept. 30-Nov. 19 as part of the 2022 FotoFocus biennal alongside historical images taken by library co-founder Curtis Gates Lloyd, who traveled the world collecting books and plant specimens from the 1890s through the 1920s. While abroad, Lloyd took pictures of plants in their natural habitats, which included Samoa, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Italy and Egypt. Despite his worldly endeavors, Lloyd also captured life close to home in Cincinnati and on his farm in Crittenden, Kentucky.
“The Lloyd Library is just a treasure, right? It's got so much history and information,” Vissing tells CityBeat. “And what we're doing, I would have to say, is a nod to the excellence that they exude themselves.”
Vissing goes on to explain that their piece of the show ultimately brings attention to conservation work. Visions of Nature is similar to another one of their projects, A Year on the Edge. Conner, who was on the active board for The Nature Conservancy and is now a lifetime legacy trustee, says the latter initiative aimed to generate awareness for the conservation work being done in Adams County, Ohio, at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. There was an initial show in 2018 at the Lloyd; the exhibit can now be seen at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
“There are such great and dramatically beautiful places in Ohio that people just don't know about. And, for me, photography is an excellent medium for capturing the beauty of those places,” Conner says. “Through that connection to photography and the wonderful sense of place it provides, my personal hope is that it allows folks to grow awareness to connect with those places and then turn that connection into support.”
Vissing and Conner chose photographs for Visions of Nature based on the theme “threads of light.” Vissing recalls one instance of standing in the river with bright sunlight beaming down on the water; there, he took photographs using a longer exposure time. He realized that he captured the sunlight creating a scribbling motion across the water. He refers to this unique pattern as a sun signature.
“The hope for me is that people see an image like this and realize what's going on. And perhaps one day look for it themselves and just find it,” Vissing says. “You can [create the scribbling motion] when you squint your eyes and you're sitting by a river in bright sunlight and then watch what the sun's doing on the surface of the water.”
Conner says that he had similar experiences in capturing movement. Several of his photographs also utilize long exposure but emphasize the flow and churn of water.
“A long exposure truly reveals how the water is moving in ways that you really don't expect and then it picks up the light,” Conner says. “So some of my images reflect that. But, to me, it was just a really intriguing thing that's almost mysterious and unveiled through the action of taking those photographs.”
The FotoFocus biennial’s sixth iteration includes over 100 projects at venues in Greater Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. All of the participating projects speak to the theme of World Record, which aims to both consider photography’s record of life on Earth while exploring humankind’s impact on nature.
Guests can look forward to several events through the exhibit’s run, including an artist talk with Conner and Vissing on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
Visions of Nature opens Sept. 30 and runs through Nov. 19 at The Lloyd Library and Museum, 917 Plum St., Downtown. Info: lloydlibrary.org.