THE OTHER SIDE
A Photographic Road Trip through America’s Heart
Melinda Green Harvey and VC Torneden
April 7 – 29, 2023
Melinda Green Harvey
Melinda Green Harvey has been drawn to black and white photography for as long as she can remember. Her college degree required a photography course she liked a lot better than any of the other classes that pertained to her actual degree. She dabbled in taking pictures until the late 1990s, when she started a ten-year-long project shooting images of roadside crosses and other memorials. In 2009, she started a photography blog with the intent of posting a picture every day. As she became more serious about photography, she began taking classes and seminars to expand her skillset. She has since shown in various galleries around the country and is currently a member of the Texas Photographic Society’s board. Her photo series Where the Wind Gallops is in the permanent collection of Texas Tech University Library’s Southwest Collection. In addition to The Other Side, she is currently continuing her ongoing documentation of the dying small towns in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle region.
VC Torneden is a visual artist who works in multiple mediums including photography. Her formal training in the arts began in early childhood and extended into study as a young adult at the University of New Orleans and Memphis College of Art. Her background includes education and work experience in painting, illustration, advertising design, and both fine art photography and photojournalism. Since 1995, her work has been featured in various publications and exhibited nationwide. Two of her previous solo photography exhibits held in Oklahoma also pertain to its history, with one showcasing an Oklahoma based traveling circus and the other documenting the remains of ghost towns all across the state. She creates and works from her home studio in rural Oklahoma County. In addition to The Other Side, VC Torneden’s current photography projects include a landscape series of Oklahoma as well as a photo essay about her years spent living in Tulsa.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
A collaborative project, The Other Side is being photographed by two artists based in Route 66 states, Melinda Green Harvey of Texas and VC Torneden of Oklahoma. Both photographers shoot in comparable styles and bend toward similar subject matter making their photographs a strong pairing for exhibition. However, each photographer brings their own viewpoint to this particular project. VC Torneden has made Route 66 one of the primary subjects of her art for more than a decade, traversing its length and documenting long forgotten segments. This has given her an encyclopedic knowledge of the locales along 66, an eye for minute detail, and a deep compassion for her subjects. Conversely, Melinda Green Harvey had never prior to this project traveled Route 66 at length and thus brought fresh eyes to the project. However, her photography frequently pivots around small town life, especially when towns begin to dry up, giving her a strong affection for things that have been left behind and the questions posed by the detritus. Given the history of Route 66 since its decertification, this perspective made Ms. Green Harvey ideally suited for documenting the modern history of the Mother Road. Indeed, the larger look she took at the locations involved is a strong balance to the fine details predominating many of Ms. Torneden’s images.
Exhibits of selections from The Other Side offer audiences an opportunity to spend time getting to know places they may have previously given little thought to if they knew about them at all, and to reflect on how being bypassed (literally as well as figuratively) has fueled the changes to those places. It is the intent of the artists that this consideration will lead the viewers to understand the broader implications of Route 66’s legacy, especially the fact that what has happened and is happening along the Mother Road is a direct reflection of what has happened and is happening throughout the whole of American society
The audience will find that the selection of images contained within this exhibit are not inclusive of the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, but rather are isolated to their region. This is a conscious choice on the part of the artists, as is where the work is being exhibited. When the project concludes, exhibits will be held all over the nation and will include the entire length of the Mother Road. However, leading up to the centennial the artists are showing selections from the very large body of work exclusively in cities and states oriented along Route 66. Those exhibits are being individually curated to the specific location, limited to the region each exhibit falls within.
This exhibit was curated with Tulsa as the center point and radiates outward 400 miles to either side, to Amarillo to the west and St. Louis to the east. It is the hope of the artists that by containing exhibits to locations directly related to Route 66 and by zooming the content of those exhibits in on the region immediately surrounding those exhibits’ attendees, the audience will feel profoundly more engaged with the work presented and with their current or potential role in the future of Route 66 in their area.