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Black photo exhibit on display Aug. 8-18

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College School of French is staging a show of photographs of Black models by 2018 French School graduate Mikael Owunna. The exhibit, titled “Infinite Essence,” will be on view at the Davis Family Library on the Middlebury campus from Aug. 8 to 18. The public is invited to opening reception on Aug. 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the library’s atrium.  

The inception of “Infinite Essence” traces back to Owunna’s deep exploration of indigenous African knowledge systems. His goal was to craft a unique visual style that encapsulates the majestic cosmos, intricate symbolism and the portrayal of Blackness as the divine, cosmic origin from which all existence blooms.

Owunna, leveraging his engineering background, developed a camera flash transmitting solely ultraviolet light for this project. Black models, their bodies meticulously adorned with fluorescent paints that glow under ultraviolet light, were photographed in complete darkness. The fleeting moment the shutter captured brought about a magical transformation, showing bodies illuminated as the celestial universe itself, with scenes inspired by the repertoire of African diasporic mythology springing forth.

Exhibition got generous support from the Middlebury Museum of Art, the Middlebury Language Schools, and the Betty Ashbury Jones MA ’86 School of French.

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