by Laura Hutson
Jana Harper is the newest addition to Vanderbilt’s art department faculty, and this exhibit at Space 204 is her first in Nashville. But the reason you should come to this talk tonight isn’t for either of those reasons. It’s simply because her subject matter — a specific photograph her mother took around the time she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and became convinced that clouds were trying to speak to her — is so heartwrenchingly perfect for art-induced discussion.
“Over a period of three years when she lived in Colorado,” Harper says in her artist’s statement, “she took thousands of photographs of clouds, convinced that each one bore a specific message and purpose.” Harper returned to Colorado recently, both to look for the negatives and to interview local residents about the sky. “The conversations were amazing. I spoke with pilots, meteorologists, a rancher, an environmentalist, a philosopher, and a Southwest historian. Each one had a different read on (my mother’s) cloud photograph, and the exhibition documents excerpts of those conversations.”
Harper will lead a gallery talk tonight, and a poetry reading with Rick Hilles and Stephanie Schlaifer follows on Saturday. But keep Wednesday, March 12, penciled in on your calendar too: A discussion titled “Different Views: What Philosophers, Scientists, Anthropologists and Artists See in the Clouds” will help close the exhibition.