Hearing from Mary Beth Meehan during her Seen/Unseen exhibit was an experience like no other. Not only were the individual portraits incredibly beautiful, but they told a story beyond what was there on the canvas. Meehan’s work shows the natural beauty of humanity, and photographing normal people in their everyday lives makes the pictures that much more interesting.
What I enjoyed more than anything about the exhibit was hearing the stories for each of the subjects Meehan focused on in her work. Not one of the people she photographed were simply just a project to her. She showed that she truly cared about them as a person, sometimes spending months getting to know them before actually taking pictures (as was the case with Annye). And even after photographing them, I could see that each of her subjects had really found a place in Meehan’s heart, and she had done the same in each of theirs. The bond she had with her subjects is something that I hope I can eventually be comfortable with as I continue in my journalistic career. After all, connections with the people we write about and cover are more important than anything.
Another of Meehan’s photos, and quite possibly my favorite of the gallery was Rhonda. This photo immediately caught my attention, hung in its corner spot in the gallery in Lee Hills Hall. Rhonda’s red hair stood out among the collection, but her facial expression is what really motivated me to read her story out of all the other photos there.
“No one struggles like she does,” Meehan quoted one of Rhonda’s sisters as saying. This photo says exactly this, but also shows much more. As Meehan described, Rhonda’s picture shows a mixture of happiness and sadness, and really gives a deeper look into Rhonda’s life.
Aside from the photo gallery itself, just getting the opportunity to hear from Meehan while sitting in the presence of all her work was incredible. She shared what each of the photos meant to her, as well as her favorites among the bunch. It truly brought each of the pictures to life.
If you wish to see more of Meehan’s work (it’s constantly being updated), visit her website here.