Old Photographs Inspire VSU Graduate and Odum Library Exhibit

July 24, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Old Photographs Inspire VSU Graduate and Odum Library Exhibit


VALDOSTA -- Six months ago, Allison “Alli” L. Delle Donne was looking through old photographs and other materials housed in Valdosta State University’s Archives and Special Collections, seeking inspiration for a printmaking class project. The result of her efforts hangs on the wall of the Odum Library’s second floor hub gallery area.

An art major graduating Saturday with a second Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she said, “I knew I wanted to do something with VSU when it was a women-only college. I have always been interested in vintage photographs, and I really like the history of VSU.”

Delle Donne met with Deborah Davis, certified archivist, director of the university’s Archives and Special Collections, and chairwoman of the Library Art Committee.

“At the time, I knew nothing about archives, but she steered me in the right direction and helped me find all sorts of images,” the Fernandina Beach, Fla., resident said. “It was interesting seeing how much things have changed over the years. I loved seeing the old books and course catalogs …. At that point, it was just a matter of figuring out which images would work best for me and my project.”

Incorporating imagery from South Georgia State Normal College bulletins from 1913 to 1917, Delle Donne created three prints, which have since been purchased by VSU Archives and Special Collections. She also donated a cameo sculpture made of clay, twine, and homemade paper. The four pieces are part of a larger exhibit titled “New Ideas, Old Photographs.”

Regarding her prints, Delle Donne shared, “The layering of text and imagery allows the viewer to discover each layer on its own while also appreciating the print as a whole. I innately strive to make something beautiful, but I hope the viewer can also take away a sense of being home from my works.”

The 23-year-old daughter of Dave and Teresa Delle Donne added, “Art is a place to call home … all the comforting things of home accompanied with a deep underlying past and meaning. I am fascinated by past and present socially constructed stigmas and preconceived notions regarding what is considered domestic.”

The “New Ideas, Old Photographs” exhibit -- showcasing Delle Donne’s work and presented by Archives and Special Collections -- features 18 individually framed photos, two large collage frames full of photos, and four original pieces of artwork inspired by these photos. Visitors can see the Class of 1919; South Georgia State Normal College in 1921, a rare, hand-colored photograph; librarians at both the 1922 and 1924 Southeastern Library Association conferences; a cooking class and the spring dress uniform from 1914; a Christmas festival in 1935; a May Day festival in 1927; and much more. Nearly all of the photos in the exhibit were taken when the university was known as the South Georgia State Normal College (1913-1922) and then Georgia State Womans College (1922-1950).

Davis said, “We’ve had a lot of good comment about the exhibit,” which will remain on display through Sunday. As they make university history this weekend, summer semester graduates and their families are welcome to visit the library and view the exhibit.

“Normally, when we do an exhibit, even an art one, we are all about passing on facts and information,” according to Archives and Special Collections. “However, this exhibit is special. If you like the old pictures that tell stories of this school, stories of an area family, stories of a profession, you can come to the VSU Archives [on the] fourth floor of Odum Library and learn all the facts you want. For this display, we just want you to savor the photos without, perhaps, knowing so much about them. What meaning do these old, now gone faces, places, and in the case of the early campus plan, ideas mean now? For Alli, they talk about women, home, social constructs, and domesticity. What do they say to you?”

Delle Donne earned her first BFA in art education, from the university in December of 2011. To meet the requirements for her second degree, she spent the summer interning with Doug Jones, a ceramics artist at Amelia Island Pottery in Fernandina Beach, Fla. She hopes to continue working for him as a studio assistant following graduation Saturday. She is also in the process of creating an art program for boys and girls in the after-school program at her local YMCA.

Contact Alli Delle Donne at aldelledonne@valdosta.edu or Deborah S. Davis, certified archivist, director of Archives and Special Collections, and chairwoman of the Library Art Committee, at (229) 259-7756 or dsdavis@valdosta.edu to learn more.

On the Web: www.allidelledonne.com