By Bethany-May Howard
The Art Gallery’s featured artist, Aubrey J. Kauffman, uses light and geometry to give the common images in his photography a strong sense of power and importance.
Kauffman’s exhibit, entitled “Long Drives and Short Walks,” incorporates photographs that focus on everyday images. Viewers are encouraged to experience scenes in a new way because of his artistic style.
“There’s a difference between looking and seeing,” Art Gallery Director Harry Naar said in the exhibitions opening reception on March 9. “When you start to focus on [the images], you begin to notice things you might not have noticed before. They tend to really encompass your own space.”
Kauffman’s keen eye and passion for photography emerged during his time at Mercer County Community College, where he had to take Photography 101 and 102 as part of the curriculum.
“I’m always looking at things,” said Kauffman. “Even when I don’t have a camera, I’m thinking about what the next photo is.”
Kauffman graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Jersey City State University before gaining his Master’s degree from the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University where he also received the Bovero Prize for Photography in 2013.
The exhibition in The Art Gallery highlights a range of both larger and smaller photographs, which are arranged in a very specific way.
“There’s a visual game that I was playing, so that every image would complement the next and lead you around the gallery,” said Naar. “I see what’s going on here like reading a novel, where you have one chapter followed by another and they all work into each other.”
Kauffman’s art, for the most part, lacks a human presence. It is strongly focused and is not heavily manipulated afterwards, which gives the viewers a sense of raw isolation and a new perspective on their surroundings.
“The most important message my art can give people is to always keep looking because you’ll never know what you’ll find,” said Kauffman. “My photographs come from regular occurrences. I don’t gear my travel around photography. It’s sort of a byproduct of my trips.”
Naar expressed the importance of the university having an art gallery in saying, “The most important thing about being in college is being able to experience everything. Having an art gallery is so important because it creates a situation where you need to think about things in a slightly different way.”
Kauffman shared some advice for aspiring artists, as well, suggesting that inspiration can be found in multiple aspects of life.
“Learn as much as you can,” he said. “Look at everything as an opportunity, whether it’s from something you’ve read or someone you’ve interacted with.”
A gallery talk event, where Kauffman and Naar will discuss the art with the audience, will take place on March 23, at 7 p.m. The exhibition is now on display on Tuesdays to Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. until Sunday, April 16.
Originally printed in the 3/22/17 edition.