Nebula Gallery Features Civil War Landscape Images through Dec. 20

A hauntingly beautiful photo of a grove of tangled trees sitting quietly in the darkness of Eagle Hollow just across the Ohio River is so mesmerizing and real it almost makes the viewer hear the buzz of insects and the gentle splashing of water. The image is from Jeanine Michna-Bales’ Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad series documenting the underground routes tens of thousands of slaves took to escape the plantations of the South and is one of the photos that will be on display at the Nebula Gallery from Oct. 28 to Dec. 20.

UT Dallas PhD Aesthetic Studies student Jessica Ingle has curated the Nebula Gallery’s newest installment, “Echoes of History,” which features the photographs of three photographers: Michna-Bales, Noel Clark and Kim Stringfellow. In this exhibit, the photographers explore how the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and the Homestead Acts altered the U.S. landscape and are permanently imprinted on the land.

One of the featured photographers, Michna-Bales, and Ingle will talk about the exhibit at a Gallery Talk and Reception, which will be held in the Nebula Gallery on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.

“I have always been interested in the ways in which place engages with memory, oftentimes shaping our understanding of events,” Ingle said. “In recent months, the Comer Collection acquired Michna-Bales’ portfolio, Through Darkness to Light, that traces multiple stops on the Underground Railroad and I began to take note of the ways in which photographers grapple with these same concepts and noticed a common thread in the work of Kim Stringfellow and Noel Clark. By recording these spaces in relation to particular historic events, these photographers are exploring not only how the land is altered by collective memory, but also how place can shift our perspective and reshape memory.”

Jeanine Michna-Bales, Eagle Hollow from Hunter’s Bottom. Just across the Ohio River, Indiana, 2014, digital C-print

The exhibit features 23 works, including 11 by Michna-Bales, eight by Clark and four by Stringfellow. It includes images of abandoned shacks in the desert, Civil War battlefields and locations where slaves stopped while escaping southern plantations 200 years ago, such as caves, safe houses and forestland.

Michna-Bales, a Dallas-based artist, spent years researching the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses mapped out by heroic abolitionists who helped more than 100,000 slaves flee north before the Civil War. Through her camera lens, she recreated the long voyage north toward freedom as it might have looked through the eyes of freedom seekers years ago. The photos of unpeopled rural landscapes, taken almost exclusively under the cover of darkness, trigger a sense of mystery, conveying a feeling of how scary the long journey must have been.

Kim Stringfellow is an artist, educator, writer and independent curator based in Joshua Tree, CA. In the Nebula Gallery exhibit, visitors will see works from her “Jackrabbit Homestead” collection, which explores the homesteading movement when residents fled the urban sprawl of Los Angeles to own land in the desert. The exhibit records the remains of an area in the Morongo Basin Valley of California. In the 1950s, this land was a part of the Small Tract Act of 1938, a land act designed to distribute federal lands deemed “useless,” which created the promise of a home on acreage to many. All homesteaders had to do was simply lease the land and build a small dwelling on the property within the first three years, and it could be theirs. However, the community did not thrive, and what resulted was a desert full of mostly abandoned shack-like structures. Some of these structures – some intact, others weathered down by the harsh desert climate – are beautifully photographed in Stringfellow’s collection.

Kim Stringfellow, Brewer Homestead, U.S. Patent No. 1146096, 2009, archival pigment print, 17×22 in. Kim Stringfellow 2009

Noel Clark was a Washington DC photographer for Life, Time and Newsweek magazines and won the 1963 grand award from the White House News Photographers Association for a portrait he took of President John F. Kennedy. Clark’s photos depict the landscape of the site of the Second Battle of Bull Run, which was fought in northern Virginia during the Civil War. This battle proved to be the deciding battle in the war campaign waged between the Union and Confederate armies in 1862.

Curator Jessica Ingle obtained a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in art history and business administration from Trinity University in San Antonio and a master’s degree in art history from the University of North Texas. With a background in registration and art advising, Ingle has a strong understanding of collection management, art acquisition and preparation and the art market. Ingle specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century American art with an emphasis in contemporary Texas art, photography, gendered representations and transculturalism.

All of the works in this exhibit come from the Comer Collection of Photography, a photography collection housed at UT Dallas that captures scenes of American life from the middle to late 20th century.

“Echoes of History” will be on display in the Nebula Gallery between Oct. 28 and Dec. 20. Visit the gallery between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Nebula Gallery is located on the third floor of the Eugene McDermott Library in the Special Collections and Archives Division. If you would like information on how to get your art displayed in the gallery, contact Cassandra Zawojek at 972-883-3855 or [email protected].

Page Last Updated: November 1, 2019