The Apex Gallery at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology will launch its new exhibit Midway by Katie Adkins with a reception from 5-7 p.m. and an artist's talk at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1.
"Midway explores the fusion of disparate relationships that occur in the chaotic environment of a carnival. Perhaps the most obvious of these is between the average carnival visitor, who experiences the sights, sounds and smells of the fair as an outsider, and the carnival workers (or carnies), who operate on the inside of that world," Adkins explained.
The project began as an exploration of the carnival worker, peeling back the surface of spectacle to reveal the human struggles and triumphs underneath. But as her discoveries deepened, it became less about peering into a world and more about looking outward through its inhabitants' eyes.
"Once I began photographing carnival workers behind the scenes I began to see a bit more through their eyes. I saw the 'fun rides' as the huge metal machines they are; I saw the wide-eyed faces of children as economic reality for the men and women who work the fair; I saw real faces behind the garish colored suits and face paint that mark the carnival barkers' 'show.'"
Adkins' medium reflects this exposed human element, stripped of the fair's fantastical kaleidoscope. Her entire exhibit is in black and white, a starkness that reveals patterns "that disappear when saturated with color" and monsters that come alive "when the motion of their colored lights is stripped away." Most importantly, it brings to light "relationships between people, relationships that move to the forefront once they are seen in stark black and white."
Her work has appeared in the Rapid City Journal, The Argus Leader, the Dahl Arts Center and the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, among other publications and locales.