The Austin College Department of Art and Art History recently opened an art exhibit catered to those that enjoy whimsical fine art photography. Brianna Burnett’s “Borrowed Whimsy” will be open until Nov. 10 in the Ida Green Gallery of the Ida Green Communication Center at Austin College.
The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Burnett created the project by scanning through inherited photographs in her family archives.
“It was inspired by the idea of using and reusing these family images to create fabricated stories and to elaborate on my family mythology, which is stories that I have heard my whole life that may or may not be true,” Burnett said. “After going through the archives, I began researching borrowed images or collectors images that I could use for the series.”
For many of her images, Burnett said, that she turned to the Library of Congress’ public domain images.
“I wanted to find imagery that I could put together,” she said. “These are high-resolution scans that have been combined with one another. Sometimes the images are two or three found photographs and that have been manipulated. The color overlay is sort of a painterly aspect.”
Burnett calls her photos digital collages rather than a photography exhibit.
“They are an element of the storytelling and sort of show my hand or perspective being placed into the historic images giving them sort of a design feel,” she said.
Burnett’s photography is a collection of images that reference storytelling, mythology, and narrative. Motivated by landscape, history, and the culture of her surroundings, Burnett integrates these concepts into photographs that are studies of historical and personal narrative.
“It’s how we tell our history,” Burnett said. “Then there is visual history that we are all responsible for. It goes back to finding a photograph and wondering who is in it and what is going on around the subject.”
Burnett is a 2002 graduate of Austin College and she earned a master’s degree in fine art in photography and sculpture from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. She teaches fine art photography.
“When it comes to photography, one of the things people need to know is that the rules are often meant to be broken,” she said. “My students do need to realize that learning a craft is important. It is also important to learn how to fine-tune using an instrument and by learning how to use a camera, you learn about the chance to manipulate the camera.”
The best rule for photographers, Burnett said, is to always have a camera with you.
“I like to teach my students to incorporate their interests into photography just like I do with storytelling and mythology,” she said. “Look for a way to create images that are important to you. Then, make those interesting for other people. That is what makes a compelling photograph. Find something worth investing your time in and then use that to develop a piece that will interest others.”
Burnett’s favorite pieces in the “Borrowed Whimsy” exhibit are titled, “My People were Chicken People,” and “Outside Garden is a Gilded Mirror.”
“My favorite photographer is Olivia Parker,” she said. “She has been an influence for me for a long time. She has transcended film to digital and kind of alternates the process which is something that I like to do.”
For more information about the department of art and art history, call 903-813-2048.