They Give Us Those Nice Bright Colors

For those who've seen her, her image is unforgettable. Her piercing green eyes. The blood-red scarf draped over her head and shoulders. Her dark brown hair. Her name is Sharbat Gula, but she's more commonly known as “the Afghan girl.” The image of this 12-year-old refugee appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 courtesy of journalist Steve McCurry — and the signature film known for conveying vibrant color, Kodachrome. The shot illustrates what can be done with the film — and why photographers are sad that it's been discontinued. Kodak stopped producing it last year, and soon the only business still processing it will stop. A retrospective exhibit, “The Last Kodachrome,” celebrates the life of the film, introduced in 1936. Gallery director Ann Jastrab said she found a multitude of noteworthy images from photographers across the country. Walt Jones, for example, used it to shoot sea life — namely jellyfish, whose red tones were heated to fiery proportions by the extra level of dye contained in Kodachrome. Another memorable image is of Miss Nude World, shot in 1974 in a place called Naked City, Indiana, which, as far as we can tell, was a very large nudist colony that did not survive “the Me decade.” (Jastrab says the, um, “hairstyle” in the image gives her shivers.) A number of shots reveal personal history, as they were found among family possessions. A snapshot by Vesna Pavlovic — which we'd say is from the early 1960s — depicts a woman standing in a high-plains setting, wearing a red scarf, holding a camera, and pointing to what appears to be a roadside mile-marker. Like Gula, we don't know who she is, but her image stays with us.

The opening reception starts at 6 p.m.
Tuesdays-Sundays; Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Dec. 17. Continues through Jan. 21, 2010

 
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