Kauffman Gallery preview: ‘Signature of the Spirit’

The Huber Arts Center is set to present a new photography exhibit, ‘Signature of the Spirit’ by Chester Higgins, in The Kauffman Gallery on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Higgins, a photographer and author portraying the “dignity of the African American and African diasporic communities” in stunning black and white photographs like the one pictured from 1984, titled, ‘Ouida.’

Higgins’ photographs depict people who are simply living. Sometimes they seem unaware of the photographer’s presence, and this allows the depth of their soul to come through. The work invites questions about the weight of the subject’s mind, their inner selves.

“When I’m photographing, I feel time begin to shift between the present, the past, and the future — which is the nature of the Spirit,” Higgins said in an interview on his website. “My challenge is to reveal the Spirit’s fleeting presence.”

Higgins was born in Alabama in 1946 and attended Tuskegee University in 1970, where he gathered inspiration for future work through his experiences. In his youth, the student protests on the campus and his family’s church community served as a foundation for his artistic journey.

Higgins also worked as a staff photographer for the New York Times from 1975 to 2014, and this time with photography developed into a strong understanding of the skill. He still currently lives in Brooklyn.

Higgins has authored many publications of his own, including ‘Black Woman,’ ‘Drums of Life,’ ‘Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa,’ ‘Elder Grace: The Nobility of Aging’ and ‘Echo of the Spirit: A Photographer’s Journey.’

Higgins’ gelatin silver prints demonstrate a mastery of capturing the mundane, drawing authenticity from moments in a life. The work focuses on highlighting the subject’s essence and, like a memory, conjuring up the emotional experience of that single second.

Some of Higgins’ work focuses on performers like Bob Marley and Aretha Franklin. Others depict people living their lives – a couple walking down the street, a woman in the back of a car. Posed or not, the people Higgins photograph somehow manages to be both striking and peaceful.

In a quote from the artist’s website, he said, “It is inside simple moments where I look for windows into larger meaning. Art is an expression of the soul that gives visual definition to an experience.”

Higgins’s work has previously been featured in many international exhibitions and held in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond. He is exclusively represented by the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York City.

This collection marks the first exhibit put forth by the Kauffman Gallery this semester. Several student exhibitions will follow ‘Signature of the Spirit,’ including the Spring senior exhibit and 44th Annual Shippensburg University Juried Student Art Exhibit.

The gallery is located on the University’s campus in the Huber Arts Center and Signature of the Spirit will be on display from Jan. 26 to Feb. 23.

The gallery has extended its usual hours during this time and will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 am to 11 am and 3 pm to 6 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 10 am and 2 pm to 6 pm and Fridays from 9 am to 11 am, 1 pm to 5 pm and by appointment.

Admission is free to both Shippensburg University students and the public and all are encouraged to visit the gallery.

For more information on Chester Higgins, visit his personal website, www.chesterhiggins.com, or the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, www.brucesilverstein.com/artists/chester-higgins.

For more information regarding the Kauffman Gallery, its upcoming exhibitions and galleries of past gallery exhibits, visit https://www.ship.edu/academics/colleges/cas/programs/art/facility/gallery/schedule/.

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