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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI student communicates with camera

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 12, 2005 -- University of Rhode Island art student Mollie Grace communicates with her camera. She’s quite a communicator. For example, she entered three photos in the 2005 Annual Juried Student Exhibition and all three were selected. The exhibition runs through May 10 at URI’s Fine Arts Center Galleries. Grace’s work is also being exhibited this month at the Warwick Museum of Art. She is the co-curator of the show.

The West Kingston resident grew up with the influence of art all around her. Her mother is a painter who sells and shows her work. “It’s hard to be a working artist,” said Grace. “She also teaches art classes on the side.” Her father, who retired from the Navy when Grace was 4, now helps her mother with the business. “My mom is very supportive,” said Grace who will graduate this May. “Some other students’ parents have a hard time accepting that they want to be an artist.”

While in high school, she took a photography class. “It just clicked,” said Grace. “The class didn’t seem like work.” The only other major she considered was math, which helps her with photography.

Grace sometimes works in other mediums, such as print and filmmaking, but her main focus is photography. “I have a lot of trouble speaking, and this is another way to say how I feel,” she said. “I feel more comfortable with this than anything else.”

For her senior art show, Grace did a series of self-portraits. “One of them was recently published in Shots magazine,” said the art student. “ The series is called ‘Interruptions.’ It shows how my thoughts are not a continuous stream.”

She also recently did a series of photos in a graveyard with a Holga camera, which gives the photos an older look because it uses a plastic lens. “Three girls in dresses are in the photos,” said Grace. “I shot them interacting with the surroundings. The pictures look playful even though the girls are in a graveyard. There is no definite narrative, the photos just hint at a story line.”

Grace takes her photos in a traditional manner, rarely using digital photography or computers. “ I am always working on my art,” said Grace. “I’m in the darkroom a few days each week. How often I take pictures depends on my mood and the weather. Most of my photos are taken outside.”

“My favorite camera is a Yashica TLR 120 mm,” explained Grace who shoots mostly in black and white. “It shows more detail. I like using these types of cameras because it is more traditional in the darkroom I’m also currently learning how to use the old-time 4x5 view camera.”

During her time at URI, Grace worked closely with Associate Professor of Art Annu Palakunnathu Matthew. “She opened our eyes to the whole spectrum of art,” said Grace. “She had us fill out mock grad school applications and she pushes us to enter shows. She even had someone come in to show us the business aspect and about copyrighting.”

“Mollie's work has blossomed over the last three years,” said Matthew. “It has been interesting to see her expand on an idea that started in her second photo class. The work in her current project is both ephemeral and evocative and deserves the attention that it has been receiving.”

Grace’s work has recently been exhibited in the corridor gallery in the Fine Arts Building, at Salve Regina University, the South County Art Association, One Way Gallery in Narragansett and Manchester Community College, Manchester, Conn.

Grace plans to take a year off to figure out where to go for graduate school to earn a master’s in fine arts in photography. She would like to continue to show her work in galleries and possibly work in a gallery. “Basically, I just want to be around art and work with it,” said Grace.

“Mollie has already shown that she has the talent and depending on her focus and hard work, she could go far,” said Matthew. “Till now she has made the most of the opportunities presented to her and I hope she will continue to do so.”