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The Blue & Gray Press | November 24, 2017

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Kindred Spirits Display Photographs

By Aaron Richardson

Seniors Clara Williams and Beth Wilkins have been friends since high school. They studied photography under the same teacher in high school, and now they culminate their college careers with a joint photography exhibit. Williams and Wilkins will open their exhibit “Kindred Vale” at Sights and Sounds on Lafayette Boulevard on Friday, Dec. 8.
The show will feature film-format photographs the two have taken over their tenure at Mary Washington. No digital work will be in the show, as the two prefer the medium of film. “The physicality of the film, paper and developing chemicals creates an  intimate process that I feel lacks in digital works,” Williams said.
“What I love about photography is the artist’s ability to  show the subtleties in life that he or she finds beautiful, grotesque or whatever emotion they feel regarding their subject,” Williams said.
Adding to Williams’ comment, Wilkins said, “I knew that I wanted to document people and impact people the way the photos had impacted me.”
Williams also said she was inspired by world-renowned photographer Sally Mann, who claims the same hometown as Wilkins and Williams. “She actually photographed my birth, so sometimes I joke around that she influenced me from day one,” Williams said.
After college, the two have different plans. Wilkins says she will continue to pursue photography, even if it means homelessness. “I guess I’ll just be a bum on the street and make collages out of other people’s photography,” she said.  Williams said that photography would have to “take a back burner” in order for her to get through graduate school.
The show has been in its planning stages all semester, but has been in the cards for a long time. “In some ways you could say the show has been brewing since we shared a locker and didn’t talk to each other in 11th grade,” Wilkins said.  The connection between Wilkins and Williams is what makes the opening moving.
“I think having the show at the end of my time at Mary Wash is even more moving because I get to exhibit with Clara and we have known each other since high school.  To me, that’s more important than being the “end of time” just because we’ve shared so much together and a lot of our photos are influenced by each other and where we grew up,” Wilkins said.
Williams added, “To see your artwork hanging in a gallery creates a sense of legitimacy and fulfillment; it’s the last step in a long process.”