Curator Corey Keller kicks off photography lecture series


Corey Keller is a curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Isabella Chirico

“We put a lot of faith in the photograph,” said guest speaker Corey Keller, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

On Oct. 5, the UK Art Museum hosted Keller at the Worsham Cinema in the Gatton Student Center to open the 2018-2019 Robert C. May’s Photography Lecture Series.

With an audience predominantly consisted of photography students and professors, it is hard to imagine a more receptive audience. The room was filled with a passion for the art of photography. Students and professors, as well as locals interested by the subject, chatted around the auditorium in anticipation of the speaker.

Keller was introduced by Janie Welker, curator of collections and exhibitions here at the UK Art Museum, before taking to the podium. Thus began a thorough and scholarly presentation reflecting on the commonly overlooked work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, a Lexington native, after touching briefly on the history and inspirations of photography.

Keller’s lecture was aimed at reinserting Meatyard’s pieces of work so that we may better understand and appreciate photography in today’s world.

“Photography is not just looking, but reading,” said Keller several times while speaking on why photography is its own complex visual language.

She informed audience members that this is especially true when it comes to the work of Meatyard, who often portrayed themes such as storytelling, expressiveness and romance. Historically overlooked due to his especially unique pieces of work, he was often delineated as an outlier to the canon.

Keller also enlightened audience members with a trimmed down version of the history of photography leading up to Meatyard. She expanded on the works and influences of several other artists and photographers, such as Henry Peach Robinson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Minor White, revealing that photography was developed from the influence of both literature and paintings.

“What I learned most from her lecture are how many actual connections Meatyard has to other photographers. I also didn’t know his work had storytelling connotations,” said Taylor Wright, a sophomore at UK studying studio art.

As the lecture reached its end, Keller opened up the room for questions. She received quite a few from both students and older audience members. She answered the questions elaborately and entirely, but also with a hint of humor. Throughout the presentation, it was clear that audience members were receptive to Keller and her accompanying visuals of Meatyard and other photographer’s works.

The UK Art Museum will be displaying an exhibit on the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard titled “Stages of Being” until December 9. Admittance to all exhibitions in the museum is free.