The works of both Alicia Collins and Matt King need no introduction or explanation, and yet here we are and I have the pleasure of doing so. It was so encouraging to witness yet another exhibition of SCAD graduates each displaying their most recent body of work on Friday, Jan. 15. As people trickled in, it was evident that the small crowd gathering in Cover Bookstore was rich with supportive friends and colleagues ready to participate in this special occasion. The cozy, gallery-style bookstore had each book on display as assembled works of art. The newest addition to their collection was Collins’ “Home” and Matt King’s “Veneers.” Now stacked in a spiral on the checkout desk, both hardcover-bound books fit perfectly in your hands. On Collins’ cover was a brilliantly lit portrait of her mother, lathered in suds, with a champagne-colored background. To accompany the book were selected pieces from the collection mounted on the walls.
Portraits sitting at eye level and about three feet tall were captivating and abrasive while managing to behold quiet and honest moments. Contrary to her work, Collins seems demure and unassuming while introducing her team and discussing the process of publishing. I have seen her thesis work before and now hearing her speak about the organic documenting process I also learned why “Home” has a pulsating life within each image. As she singled out a pregnant woman in the room, she stated that for all of us, our mother is our first home, but she has been privileged enough to have her heart remain there.
King’s work “Veneers,” though drastically different in content, had a similar context to Collins’ deeply introspective work. His book, stacked next to Collins’, had a blank white cover, the cover itself being a veneer for the work inside. He stated that he did not want viewers to judge his book by the cover. Instead, he wanted them to investigate and intimately involve themselves in his photographed journey. His images are all tight, close up self-portraits. King photographed himself doused in various materials including gasoline, milk, and even animal blood with each element having symbolic and sentimental purpose. His expressions gave a haunting narrative to each piece ranging from agonizing to celestial, making this body of work one to be studied and analyzed.
Cover Bookstore created the perfect atmosphere for such esoteric work and I would consider this event a success. As a photography student it is always satisfying to experience such admirable and audacious work curated with care. I look forward to seeing what they each do next.
Located right in the neighborhood, the Cover Bookstore is at 1031 Marietta St. Atlanta.
By Tyler McClelland, contributor