Wavelend Art Exhibit takes University YMCA by storm

This Friday at the University YMCA, students, faculty, artists and families gathered around bottles of wine, music, and photographs from Valerie Oliveiro’s exhibit of Waveland: A Meditation.

Valerie Oliveiro, a Singapore native and current resident photographer at Krannert Art Museum, created the Waveland photography show to give insight on the impact Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill had on Waveland, Miss.

Oliveiro’s series of landscape photographs express her passion for capturing nature and the environment, as well as spatial concepts.

“I just want people to think about the way we use our spaces, the land and our environment. These ten photos highlight different aspects of how we do that everyday,” Oliveiro said.

She said she did not originally plan for her photographs to feature Waveland, but after listening to public radio while driving through Mississippi, she was urged to take a quick look at the space and immediately knew it was the place to photograph.

“I thought the empty pieces of land looked owned and used. When timing gives value to a photo, that’s what Waveland is,” she said.

Ann Rasmus, program director of the University YMCA, wanted to bring Waveland to the YMCA to fulfill the organization’s mission of exhibiting international justice, social justice, environmental justice and interfaith work.

“Her exhibit touches on the things the Y stands for, and we want to show local artists who are working on these issues,” Rasmus said.

Featuring the photographs as part of the YMCA’s Art @ the Y program was a way to get viewers to feel engaged and to provoke thought while looking at such a devastating display of the environment, she said.

“Waveland serves as meditation. The images are striking and invite you to spend time with them and affect you,” Rasmus said.

Ethan Robertson, junior in Media, said the photographs gave him a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the environment as well as a sense of desperation felt in Waveland, Miss.

“These photographs made me think about my own surroundings and how I interact with my environment everyday and how I really see things. It was very moving,” Robertson said.

The Waveland photographs offer a different perspective on the cities and places affected by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, but Oliveiro’s goal of the photographs is to evoke people to think about their own environmental experiences.

“Waveland, for me, is wanting people to see how much our environment shapes how we see ourselves and anyone else,” Oliverio said.