A Sense of Place at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Museum of Art

13 October 2021

Josh Fuqua

Shortly after arriving in Savannah, GA on Wednesday afternoon, our group took to the streets for a walking tour of The Savannah College of Art and Design’s Museum of Art. Greeted by an exciting and provocative display of bright pinks juxtaposed with classic Victorian self-portraits we were introduced to our tour guide, Celeste. She briefly explains the message of the welcoming display, and leads us into the first exhibit where they feature a different SCAD graduate’s work in a rotating gallery refreshed each month.

Photo Series by Arturo Soto

Here, in the first exhibit, we were introduced to the work of SCAD’s own Arturo Soto, who obtained an MFA in photography at the college. The photography in this exhibit captured landscapes that seemed empty, deteriorating, exactly the sort of scene you walk by and forget about; like the centered image of a shopping cart resting against an abandoned building. Noticeably, our group was puzzled by what exactly was the focus or subject of the images curated for this exhibit; Celeste was quick to inform us that Soto produced this exhibit to display images that remind him of home. Showing those who see the work that his idea of home is best illustrated by images of landscapes falling apart; or as Celeste tells us, “he wanted to illustrate how spaces and the memory of those spaces is lost and changed overtime.”

Studying this exact idea of what is incorporated in one’s “sense of place,” our group immediately perked in interest and excitement. There was no more fitting way to start our tour than learning that the highlighted photographer reflects on his own sense of place by capturing the changing of physical landscapes. We admired the insightful photography, learned about how Soto displays empty landscapes to highlight forgotten pasts, and promptly were ushered into the next exhibit and main gallery.

"Carving Out Time" by Latoya Hobbs; Photo by Jordan Fields @jfotoz

At the first exhibit of the main gallery, I was immediately in awe at an intimidating 6 foot tall wooden carving. The piece, titled “Carving out Time” is a three paneled hand carving that artist Latoya Hobbs uses to physically represent a day in the life of a mother through the lens of the artist. The monumental wooden carving shows a family in bed after waking up: a father embracing his daughter, and another daughter embracing her mother who enjoys her first big morning stretch upon waking up. Although the mother is the glaring focus of the scene, the evocative image reminded me dearly of similar scenes retained in my memory; waking my parents up at first sunlight with my younger sisters in tow. This, I'm sure, was the exact intention of Latoya Hobbs in creating this cozy scene of a mother’s daily routine, reminding passersby and consumers of her work of those intimate moments so deep in one’s memory that only a piece so gargantuan can remind you of that sense of place.

The remaining tour of the SCAD’s Museum of Art introduced us to more provocative displays, but none more contributing to our understanding of one's sense of place than these two pieces I’ve highlighted. Through our introduction to Soto’s depreciating landscapes illustrating lost memories, and Hobbs’ depiction of a mothers’ most mundane and intimate moment, our group’s study of such personal senses of place were entirely bolstered at the SCAD’s Museum of Art.