Photo exhibit brings outdoor scenes to atrium

By Maria Jose Subiria


Employees and passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are getting a glimpse of the great outdoors inside the airport's atrium.

But "Hidden Nature," an exhibit by Atlanta artist Steve Tanner that began March 13 and ends April 29, isn't a typical nature photography show.

"I want to immerse my audience in the idea of nature itself," said Tanner. "It's a place of enlightenment."

Tanner, in his 15 photographs currently being displayed in the atrium, depicts unusual shapes by dividing and reflecting a single image from one photograph.

"The lush colors and textures of nature provide a welcome respite in contrast to the often hurried movements found in an airport as active as Hartsfield-Jackson," said David Vogt, special program manager for the Department of Aviation.

Vogt said he is intrigued by the patterns that evolve when the images merge in the photography.

"To me this suggests the intricacies of nature's design, and what tremendous beauty can be found there," he said.

According to Tanner, he captured his images in Georgia and South Carolina. His ventures led him to local waterways such as the Chattahoochee, Yellow and South rivers.

Tanner said his inspiration for the photos came from a kayaking experience.

"I was going up the river, into the swamp, and the sun came out, and there was a reflection," he said.

He said he couldn't distinguish "what was land, and water, and see what shapes made this natural phenomena. I was in this tight canal, and it's almost like I was floating."

Tanner has been compiling an archive of his photography for the past six years, and though he enjoyed the pictures of nature as they were, he said he wanted to add a dose of his own flair.

"I always wanted to do a little more with the image to bring out a little more. I wanted to take something back with me, from my trips, that would trigger emotion," said Tanner.

His said his relationship with the natural world has become an important part of his life, and that he wants his audience to connect with earth's beauty as well.

"I go out every Friday, and break away from my day job, and get into a natural environment," said Tanner. "I hope these images help people to do that."

Tanner said that because he wants viewers to engage with his kaleidoscopic photographs, he chose not to name the individual pictures.

"It's like, why would you want to try to name a sunset? You can't really put it into words," he said.

According to Tanner, he submitted his photography to airport officials two years ago, but it wasn't selected for display as part of the Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson until this year.

"Mr. Tanner's work was not selected for the year he submitted, but we found his work interesting and were able to schedule it for the subsequent exhibit season," said Vogt.

Tanner's work is also collected in a coffee-table book entitled, "Hidden Nature: Faces, Creatures, Structures, Enhancement, Organic." It includes a larger selection of his nature photography, and is available through the www.blurb.com web site. A preview of the book is available at Tanner's site, www.tannermark.com.

Tanner's art education began at the Ringling College of Art and Design, a private college in Sarasota, Fla. He obtained a bachelor's degree in advertising design in 1978.

After graduation, he stepped into the working world as a designer for the Alphabet Group, a company that is no longer in business.

Tanner said he did concept boards for companies like Coca-Cola.

After a year of working at the Alphabet Group, he became an art director for an advertising agency. He later left the agency and created his own advertising business in the 1980s. It eventually evolved into TannerMark, Inc., his current company.

"I work online with guys from New York and Atlanta," said Tanner. "I have an office at home and produce web sites for my clients."

His next step will be to exhibit his pictures at Callaway Gardens, in Pine Mountain, Ga.

According to Tanner, the exhibition will take place at the Callaway Gardens' Discovery Center, which will give him ample room to add more of his photography, and increase the size of his pictures. The two-month exhibition will run from September to October next year.

"I can print them in any size format," said Tanner. "I will want the images big, like murals."

In the future, Tanner said he would like to produce more books, and exhibits of his nature photography.

"I am not trying to chase the fine-art lifestyle," he said. "It [Hartsfield-Jackson's atrium] seemed like a good fit."