Slice of Life

Wanderlust exhibit showcases travel photography from centuries past

UPDATED: Sept. 15 at 6:04 p.m.

Housed in a small corner of the Syracuse University Art Galleries, past twisting and turning walls lined with contemporary artwork, lies Syracuse’s travel photography exhibit: Wanderlust. In a musty and almost secretive setting are black and white photographs, arranged above rows of cabinets.

The exhibit consists of approximately 20 images taken by travel photographers. It was organized by SU staff and curated by SUArt Collection and Exhibition Manager Emily Dittman.

These particular pieces, which are part of Syracuse’s permanent University Art Collection, haven’t been included in previous large exhibitions, so this year is the first time the general public will see them.

Dittman explained that every year, the Syracuse Symposium chooses a theme, and this year it was “place.” The Symposium then organizes events throughout the year related to the theme through events such as performances, guest speakers, workshops, films and exhibits.

Dittman said the goal of the Symposium is to encourage the student body to delve into humanities.

The pictures capture moments from the mid-1800s to the late 1900s, focusing primarily on landscape and intricate architecture.

Toward the beginning of the timeline, a lot of the artists featured are from Western Europe, and a lot of their pictures were taken there as well. Some subjects include Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

In the 20th century section of the timeline, more American photographers are featured. Some traveled internationally to take pictures, but many chose instead to focus on domestic scenery.

Most of the American photos were taken in southwestern states, including Texas, Utah and Arizona.

When cameras were first created, they were expensive and therefore inaccessible to the majority of the population. They were also bulky and hard to transport.

As cameras developed and became smaller and more accessible, it was easier for people to take them on trips. However, international travel wasn’t commonplace at that time.

Travel photography was a way for those with financial means to show the world to those who could not see it for themselves. By capturing exotic locations through their lenses, they were able to ignite curiosity about cultures and document different lands. They told stories with their pictures.

Michael Davis, a multimedia photography and design professor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, pointed out that travel photographers have a special way of looking at and experiencing new places.

“The most successful photographs of places create a sense in the viewer that likely comes from a unique coming together of circumstances that the traveler likely won’t experience,” he said.

The Wanderlust exhibit will last until May 14.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, the correct name of the Syracuse University Art Galleries was misstated. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

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