An artistic photograph by Nathalie Daoust bears the following caption: “Education is ‘universal’ and state-funded. According to the CIA, North Korea has a 100% literacy rate and students have to complete a three-year, 81-hour course on Kim Jong-un. Note: In the 1990s, all teachers were required to pass an accordion test before receiving their teaching certificate.”
IDAHO FALLS — The Willard Arts Center in Idaho Falls is welcoming two new exhibits this week.
The Carr Gallery in the Willard will host “Korean Dreams,” a photography exhibit from Nathalie Daoust. “Korean Dreams” is a traveling exhibit that has been displayed all across the country and offers a unique peek inside North Korea.
“(Daoust), on two different trips into North Korea, had a secret camera,” Idaho Falls Arts Council spokesperson Georgina Goodlander said. “She took photographs in restricted areas where visitors were not supposed to be able to take photos.”
An artistic photograph by Nathalie Daoust bears the following caption: “The late Kim Jong-il reportedly felt that the sight of a woman on a bike could pose a potential threat to public morality. Finally, in the mid-nineties, when the daughter of a top general was killed on a bike, the law periodically banned women from riding bicycles. Since then, they are generally restricted from holding any sort of driving license.”
During the development process, Daoust manipulated her photos, obscuring details and blurring out areas of the images. She did this to support the thematic content of her photos.
“She’s trying to make a point about how information in North Korea is disseminated and that people are not getting the whole truth,” Goodlander explained. “So she’s trying to make her images extra mysterious and blurred in that way.”
“Korean Dreams” also features captions that accompany the photos, providing context and perspective in the images.
“We have quite extensive captions with each of the images that talk about life in North Korea and what we do know about different elements, such as their education system, their health care, capital punishment, things like that,” Goodlander said. “It’s an exhibition that involves more reading than usual, but it’s fascinating reading.”
Artwork by Kalie Graves
Meanwhile, the Hall Gallery, also part of the Willard, will host a collection of paintings from local artist Kalie Graves.
“I discovered her sometime last year,” Goodlander said. “She’s only recently, within the last few years taken up oil painting full-time, but she’s phenomenally talented.”
While Graves took some art classes, she is primarily a self-taught oil painter. She paints a wide range of subject matter, from portraits and landscapes to still lifes.
“It was when she inherited her oil paint supplies five years ago that she decided to take it up and do it,” Goodlander explained. “That’s pretty incredible given the level of skill in her work. She’s an incredible local artist, so we wanted to feature in the gallery upstairs.”
Goodlander said each of these exhibits offers different benefits to those who choose to come to see them. Graves’ work is something that local community members should be able to relate to and see themselves in. Daoust’s images give insight into and new knowledge of a part of the world and a culture that is, for the most part, closed off to outsiders.
Both exhibits open with a reception Thursday night at the galleries in the Willard Art Center. The reception runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Food and drink will be served. Visit the Idaho Falls Art Council’s web site for more information.
Artwork by Kalie Graves