Young architecture student discovers street photography, exhibits work in Columbus
Julian Plowden wants to change the world, one photograph at a time.
“What is a younger version of me going to see when they look at my photographs?” he asks himself. “What are they going to learn from these photographs? What’s the story that’s going to be told or reflected?”
The 2010 Jordan High graduate currently has an exhibit of his work at the Black Arts in America Gallery in Columbus. Titled “Love, Streets and Protests: A Photography Exhibition of Works,” Plowden said the show is “a collection of work that sort of romanticizes my adventures between school, research in architectural design, people in the streets and the chaos that was kind of going on (in Atlanta).”
Photography was initially a tool used to document his work in architectural design and smart cities while a student at Kennesaw State University. Then the candid, unguarded and unpredictable nature of street photography captured his imagination while walking the streets of Atlanta.
“All those moments make it feel like magic,” he said. “It feels like walking through a movie.”
It also became an exercise in self-discovery. “You start to understand yourself when you take photos,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing to learn the creative things that make up you.”
He said he strives to frame his subjects in a “narrative, or an empowering light. Something that’s supposed to give hope or meaning to them.”
One of his favorite photos was taken through the window of a subway car in an Atlanta train station. He photographed the crowd of marchers during a protest against police brutality near the CNN building, and began his foray into photojournalism. The speeches, chants, emotion and energy of the moment moved him to lift his camera and document the event as it unfolded around him. He later covered the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Oftentimes, when you think about an important historical event, you think about what it looks like in your head before you think of the actual story,” Plowden said. “Images of the March on Washington are recalled before the speeches are remembered. You have this world view that is put together by photographs.”
Plowden recognizes that as young African-American man, he brings his own “mindset and historical context” to inform his photography. Several of the images are accompanied by original poetry.
“I’m working to make the world a better place. I’m working to dissolve racism. Working to get our country on better progressive politics and make a stronger democracy,” he said.
Black Art in America features visual art by African-Americans across the country, and is located at 1506 6th Avenue, Unit #115. Gallery visits are Monday through Friday by appointment, and weekends 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Call (706) 992-6210 or visit www.blackartinamerica.com for more information on the gallery. Visit www.shopbaia.com to view and purchase BAIA art.