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DuVernet's poems and photographs on display

Photo by Ricki Barker

Photo by Ricki Barker

ALBANY, Ga. -- At first glance, one might think their eyes are deceiving them while they look at one of Kay DuVernet's photographs. DuVernet has managed to transform ordinary objects into artwork with a single shutter click.

Everyday encounters with rain puddles, train cars and old shipyards become pieces of abstract art through the Albany native's lens and eyes.

A collection of 30 color photographs, entitled "The Homplace: Photographs by Kay DuVernet" along with poems written by DuVernet are currently on display at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta until Sunday, when the exhibition closes.

Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Museum of Art, said DuVernet's photographs are part of the museum's permanent collection but have not been on display until now.

"The photographs I believe were donated by the artist a few years ago. We haven't had an opportunity to have them in an exhibit, but now the museum has them on display," said the director.

The exhibit opened at Morris Museum after DuVernet's death last August at the age of 62.

Diane Miller, DuVernet's sister, said she thinks her sister would have been proud of the exhibit and always loved to share her work.

"It is so much fun to share them (the photographs) with other people. It was so much a part of who she was. She was quite an artist. Most people look at her photography and don't think it's a photo," said the artist's sister.

DuVernet's images are un-retouched 35 mm photographs that the she has transformed through photographic abstraction.

Miller said DuVernet began dabbling in photography when Miller gave her old camera to her sister. DuVernet was born and raised in Albany, but did most of her work in New Orleans.

A book was published of DuVernet's work and is available for purchase at The Carriage Trade located at 2206 Dawson Road.

DuVernet's book, titled "Rain From Nowhere" was assembled after the photographer suffered a massive stroke that resulted in paralysis.

"She wasn't able to work after that," explained Miller. "She was no longer able to hold her camera or to wander in search of objects of inspiration for her photographs."

Miller said after her sister had a stroke the family found scraps of paper with parts of poems written on them in boxes of DuVernet's belongings.

"My sister and I began assembling the pieces. We were finding boxes of negatives and scraps of poems. The poems were not titled and the pages didn't have numbers on them so we had to piece them together," said Miller.

Carol Leake, a friend of DuVernet's and a professor at Loyola University in Louisiana, also began work on assembling the book. For several years Leake would edit "Rain From Nowhere", which was eventually published by the Dusti Bonge Foundation.

Dusti Bonge was an artist in New Orleans who was very close to DuVernet, Miller said.

"Kay had been writing poetry for years. Most of the poetry in her book was written in the 80s and early 90s. A lot of her photographs are from her time in New Orleans," said DuVernet's sister.

Miller said the title of "Rain From Nowhere" comes from the fact that her sister enjoyed overcast days.

"Kay hated a bright, blue day of sunshine. She always loved a rainy, cloudy day. She was happiest when there was the smell of rain in the air," she said.

DuVernet slipped into a coma while at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital before she could see "Rain From Nowhere" completed.

"The book is incredibly beautiful and it was Kay's dream for so many years," Miller said of her sister's book.

"Rain From Nowhere" includes numerous photographs taken by DuVernet and several poems written by the artist.

In the book DuVernet explains how the photographs were taken:

"No image is constructed, arranged, or manipulated; each has evolved as a result of natural elemental forces, sometimes channeled unconsciously through the human mind. Seeing them through the lens is, to me, like looking directly through the rhythms and harmonies of the universe into the heart of its visual poetry."

Miller said her sister was an extraordinary person and gifted, but even after suffering from her stroke DuVernet never dwelled on sadness.

"She wanted people to focus on her work. Kay did not dwell on her disability or misfortunes... and preferred that others not dwell on them either," said DuVernet's sister.

Miller said that she and the rest of DuVernet's family are excited that their sister's work is being shared.

"The book and the exhibit is a chance for everyone to see Kay's work. I am glad many others will have the chance to see and enjoy as we have for so many years," said Miller.