Pop brings outsider’s eye to strong exhibit

A housekeeper prepares the room for the incoming guests at the Athenaeum Hotel on June 12, 2014 before the official opening of the summer season at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY. The Athenaeum Hotel built in 1881 is one of the Institution's landmarks, also considered to be a prestigious place to work for because of its history and historical figures who have stayed at the hotel, like Thomas Jefferson, president Clinton, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A housekeeper prepares the room for the incoming guests at the Athenaeum Hotel on June 12, 2014 before the official opening of the summer season at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY. The Athenaeum Hotel built in 1881 is one of the Institution’s landmarks, also considered to be a prestigious place to work for because of its history and historical figures who have stayed at the hotel, like Thomas Jefferson, president Clinton, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. This photo, taken last summer as part of former Daily photographer Roxana Pop’s master’s project is on display at the Hultquist Center through Friday.

Guest Review by Anthony Bannon

She has the name of a star and the talent to go with it.

A Fulbright Scholar to the University of Missouri master’s program in the School of Journalism, the young Romanian photographer has developed her thesis project on a theme of “Chautauqua Dream World.”

Visitors to Chautauqua often marvel upon its idyllic qualities, so dreamworld Chautauqua may seem a commonplace to the seasoned visitor.

So often, though, it takes the eyes of the stranger to present a new vision. A native of the beautiful northern city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Roxana Pop’s Chautauqua discoveries present such a new vision: Sometimes of old songs — just rendered in new voice: Kids at a cottage window on a cold day, sunset viewed by a couple at the lake, the scene amplified by a red flair on the Fourth of July. She makes it special. The American flag, so prominent here, with bunting and a child on a bike.

Pop has good instincts for a telling subject. She has the curiosity to move backstage, such as with a young staffer making a bed in the Athenaeum, or the raising of a tent as if it were the flag at Iwo Jima.

And when she gives light its full account, her work takes an even stronger stand — nightview by streetlight, the geometry of fake candles at a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle ceremony, a child napping on a wicker porch couch. These parts portray the whole, though most tellingly, is just two knees against the wall of a day sailor.

Her showing, including the fast draw of smartphone images, continues through Friday in the Hultquist Center, and she has returned to teach a workshop on her medium on the grounds.

Pop interned here as a photographer for the Daily in 2013 and returned the following summer to find her muse and create the images for her degree. Viewers can find additional Chautauqua images she makes this summer posted on the AARP Instagram this week.

Anthony Bannon is the executive director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State. He previously was the art critic for The Buffalo News and director of George Eastman House, the International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York.