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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eliot Dudik Opens September 9th 2011

Fine Art photographer Eliot Dudik works in a large-format style that documents the inhabited landscapes of an almost bygone South, the country that lies along US Route 17. Many of us drive this road between Charleston and Savannah. We know it for its sweet grass baskets, the scent of ocean, the expanse of towering pines. But as Dudik laments, “like many semi-isolated, rural spaces, this area has a deeply rooted culture in danger of obscurity and demise ... The surest levee to protect such cultures and preserve heritage and history is awareness ... These images are but a single, essential sandbag.” Dudik discovers the soul of Route 17 in its people and landscapes, and his dramatically eloquent photographs interpret the spirit of this vanishing community.

On 9 September at 6 pm ART+CAYCE will open an exhibition of Dudik’s bucolic images in a show called “Road Ends in Water.” The title comes from a road sign, yellow with black letters, planted in front of a spectacular Dixie wilderness extending to the horizon. Travel on this route is guided by Dudik’s eye for the uncanny. In a piece called “Carew Rice Painting” a rotting drive-in screen has been re-painted with silhouettes of deer—a buck, doe, and fawn under a tree. They drink at a pond of startled ducks. The image perfectly depicts what was (people at a show) and what will be (wilderness, unpeopled). “Snuffy’s House” also highlights Dudik’s fascination with the residents and their natural environment. Snuffy’s mounts line the paneled walls of his man-cave: deer and a Canada goose in flight. There’s a wreath of pinecones—big ones—and hunting rifles, but in the adjacent room stands a baby grand piano. Could there be a better image of our southern culture, that genius for combining the pleasures of nature and art? In “The Word” Dudik finds “spiritual intimacy” in one small mission devoted to local faith. The sanctuary may be lonely now, but the Sunday tide will pull in its parishioners and they will be washed in the Word. The face of Christ covers the fans lying on a table. There’s no A/C in these places! Finally, “First Snow in Twenty Years” shows some tire tracks in a vacant field lightly dusted in snow. Someone has been spinning out the pickup, making what can only be described as crop circles in the snowfield. Down here snow makes an appreciated if ephemeral canvas.

Dudik’s 2010 monograph, also called Road Ends in Water, has received acclaim through national exhibition and in online publications, such as Fraction Magazine, Magenta Magazine, and One, One Thousand: A Publication of Southern Photography. Dudik received a BS in Anthropology and a BA in Art History from the College of Charleston in 2007. He earned his MFA in Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010. Dudik has just relocated to Columbia, where he was recently appointed adjunct professor of Photography at USC.