A new exhibit is on display at the Mulvane Art Gallery: “The Hereditary Estate” by Daniel W. Coburn. Coburn, a photography professor at the University of Kansas, describes his work.
“The Hereditary Estate is a collection of images I’ve made over the past 10 years. I have also included found, amateur photographs that I have collected. In some instances these found photographs have been altered by their original owners, or sometimes I intervene and manipulate the images.
“My family history is haunted by instances of substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide. I think of this exhibit of photographs as a supplement to the idealized family photo album that I viewed as a young adult.
“As a professor at the University of Kansas, my work and research investigates the family photo album as part of a visual infrastructure that supports the ideology of the American Dream.
“These images are inspired by members of my immediate family, and also the stories and histories that have been relayed to me about my grandparents. ‘The Hereditary Estate’ is a story about my family, but I hope that these characters I present are accessible to a wide audience. I think of them as icons of a universal human experience. I confront the dark aspects of my family history, and I hope that this confrontation brings us all closer to empathy, forgiveness and catharsis.”
There are many dificulties behind creating an exhibit as Coburn mentioned.
“The photographs I made for ‘The Hereditary Estate’ are all staged to varying degrees. I think of them as performances and collaborations between myself and loved ones. This collaboration allows us to communicate and confront issues that we’ve never talked about before. It’s a positive but sometimes dificult experience.”
Coburn, a 2009 Washburn University graduate, went on to receive his MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2013.
“18 years ago I walked into the Mulvane Museum and I remember seeing drawings by Professor Emeritus Edward Navone, and paintings by Barbara Waterman- Peters who was also teaching at Washburn at that time. I remember the beauty and craft of Professor Navone’s work, and the haunting, dark, imaginative paintings of Waterman-Peters. Those are two qualities I strive to build into my own work. It’s an honor to have this inaugural exhibition of ‘The Hereditary Estate’ shown at The Mulvane Art Museum. I feel like I have come full circle to some degree and it is exciting.”
On Feb. 11 Coburn will be discussing the series during a brown bag lunch from 11:30 a .m. to 12:30 p.m. and the exhibition will run from Jan. 16 to March 21. He will also be part of a discussion on Feb. 25t at 4 p.m. in the gallery.
Finally, Coburn will be hosting a workshop Jan. 31 from 1-4 p.m. in Room 16 of Garvey. The cost is $35 for members and $40 for non-members. Workshop attendees will create collages using photographs that they provide.
“I feel very fortunate to have studied under the mentorship of great professors in the Art Department,” Coburn said. “As an undergraduate, I was thankful that I was able to study directly with full-time faculty. This is not always the case at a larger university. All of the professors in the art department played a major role in my development as an artist. Marydorsey Wanless had a major inluence on my work that continues today. Other professors, like Thomas Fox Averill in the English department had a major inlu-