The exhibit, titled “Turning Point,” represents a shift in Conover’s journey as a photographer. He said that for many years he labeled himself a photographer but now identifies as an educator. He mentioned that for him photography and education are heavily intertwined.
Conover works as a full-time journalism adviser and photography instructor at Andover High School and is an adjunct professor at Newman University and Butler Community College. He lived in New York City for 10 years where his photography work eventually became grueling and somewhat unenjoyable, he said. He decided to return to Wichita to teach, which he felt would be a better fit for him. He said, “(Teaching photography) allowed me to share my passion for the medium and brought a lot of the joy back.”
His exhibit, Turning Point, will feature large-format photographs taken with a 4×5 camera. “It produces a high-resolution view of a scene and it’s remarkable the things the camera captures that I have no notion of at the time of the taking,” said Conover.
Conover became seriously involved in photography in 1988 when his friend urged him to take a photography class in high school. The two enjoyed freestyle bicycling and wanted to be able to capture their tricks on film. Conover said, “After a semester in photography, there was no looking back. I had ditched my bike for the camera.”
Photographing old things like cars and buildings, or capturing images of people, holds an interest with Conover, but recently he has been drawn to landscapes.
Conover’s photography ranges in a subject as well as color. “A strong sense of contrast definitely infuses my color work, which is all digital.”
Turning Point, however, is a black and white display, something that inspires Conover. Another inspiring aspect of photography is how things age in photographs, which Conover said is inherent to photography. “It’s more interesting than any conceptual approach I could come up with on my own.”
Conover added, “’Turning Point’ is also a shift away from photojournalism toward art. There is still the guiding principle of truth, which is a loaded word when it comes to photography. But I’m interested in a visual austerity.”
When describing his exhibit, he said, “the word ontology comes to mind; what is photography?” A recent preoccupation for him has been searching to find that answer. He says perhaps Turning Point will arrive at that answer.
Being in his first year of adjunct teaching at Newman, Conover looks forward to the show and said, “I think it’s going to be a great introduction for me and the Newman community.”
An “Art for Lunch” presentation by the artist will be held Oct. 31 from noon to 1 p.m. in the gallery. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests are also welcome to bring their lunch. This event is also free and reservations are not required.
The Steckline Gallery is located inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on the Newman campus, 3100 McCormick. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call (316) 942-4291, ext. 2199