By Carrie Beth Wallace
Images by Julian Plowden
This week, Black Art in America Gallery opens a groundbreaking show by Columbus native Julian Plowden. The young artist, who specializes in Architectural photography and Photojournalism created his new exhibit entitled Love, Streets, and Protests by blending his two mediums into romantic art pieces.
The exhibit features images Plowden has captured from events related to many different social issues. The work encompasses images highlighting racial tensions in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, images taken in Ferguson, Missouri and other examples of situations with social tensions across the nation.
Plowden's work has been featured in The Louvre, and is in the permanent collection at Emory University's MARBL archive. Plowden studied Architecture in Columbus during high school and majored in Architecture, Education and Media while in college at Kennesaw State. His photography often incorporates lines, angles, parallels and juxtapositions between buildings and people.
For Love, Streets, and Protests, Plowden also incorporated poetry into the exhibit. In a recent press release, he explained the fact the show is "a culmination of efforts of romanticization in art, design and humanity."
Plowden's work has garnered him the attention of over 100,000 people online and his work has peaked the interest of many well-known curators and art collectors. To better understand his new exhibit running at Black Art in America this month, we corresponded with Plowden to dig a little deeper into his story. Read on to discover how he developed his love of photography, when and how he connected with Najee Dorsey at Black Art in America, what he's got planned for 2019, and why he's especially looking forward to bringing his work back home for the first time.
Q: How did you get into photography? What specific aesthetic inspires you?
A: I got into photography by needing to take photos of my Architecture work at school in Kennesaw State University. Pretty soon I was taking photos of my friends around campus and the newspaper asked me to work for them. That's how I transitioned from Architectural Photography to Photojournalism. I'm inspired by the built environment and how it frames people. My photos of people often have building in the background and that's very purposeful. I'm trying to romanticize the situation.
Q: How do you know Najee and his work at Black Art in America?
A: On campus I was a student photographer but off-campus I might as well have been a fully-fledged photojournalist, because I started taking photos of city events, political meetings that I'd attend and even protests. My protest photos went viral online, getting over 100K shares and I showed them at an Atlanta photography festival where I was discovered by local curators. Those curators helped me sell my work to Emory University, host a few art shows and recommended me to the media, media like Black Art In America. I didn't know Najee Dorsey at the time, but I was featured on his Black Art In America. Since then, I moved back to Columbus to do independent study where I discovered that Black Art In America had moved it's HQ here. I attended the grand opening where I was shocked to meet Najee in person. He could see that I was trying to study my craft and maintain a regular job, so he helped me by allowing me to work with him at his gallery. It's been an amazing experience.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about this show?
A: FINALLY showing in my hometown. I've had shows so far at Harvard, Smith College, University of Alabama and more, but never one in Columbus, Georgia so I'm happy to connect with my friends and the local community. I want to work with and inspire my peers and those younger than I.
Q: What's next for you? Any aspirations for 2019 our audience should know about?
A: Two things: The first is that if I can make a cool civil rights movie out of my adventures then I will, but I need some help. The second is that I'm also working a food app startup, I won't get into too many details but it's a really cool recipe app and we'll be launching a kickstarter for it. Photography turned me into an entrepreneur and I love it!
If You Go:
What: Love, Streets and Protests When: February 1-28 Where: Black Art in America Gallery, 1506 Sixth Avenue, Suite #115 For More Information, click here.