Structure and Space: Law professor takes unique
approach to photography

By Joel Hall


As a Constitutional Law professor at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Daniel Piar uses deductive reasoning to get to the essence of any particular subject matter. Piar uses the same approach to his photography, which is on display this month at the Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro.

His exhibit, "Structure & Space," will be at the gallery from now until May 29. The winner of Arts Clayton's 2008 Juried Photography Show, Pair's work focuses on man-made structures and using perspective to make ordinary objects interesting.

"I'm not really trying to express myself," Piar said. "I just try to illustrate things the way they are. You can approach a building and take a documentary photo. Each building also has an essence. There is a way to see more deeply into it than just the surface of it.

"A lot of [the exhibit] is the built landscape ... the things that humans have done," he continued. "They are human artifacts, so I think, in many ways, architecture is one of the most interesting arts. It's a major statement of the human endeavor."

Piar's photography career started in the summer of 1994, just after he graduated from Yale Law School in New Haven, Conn. He spent the summer at his parents' farm in Holmes County, Ohio, documenting the imprint humans had left on the rural, country landscape, he said.

"An old girlfriend gave me a camera," he said. "The summer after law school I spent at home, and I just started taking pictures of everything around me. It was really the gift of the camera that promoted my hobby."

Using digital and analog photography, Piar captures beach scenes in northern Michigan, mountains and cactuses in Arizona, various metro Atlanta structures, and rural farm scenes from Ohio. Many of the subjects are inanimate, such as barn windows, statues, ladders, and churches, but others include plants and wildlife shown in unique detail.

Karen Powers, gallery manager at Arts Clayton, said that everything in Piar's exhibit demonstrates "a very conscious effort."

"It's a very good example of modern photography," Powers said. "It's very clean. There is a lot of thought put into why each piece is the way it is. He takes normal, everyday life and makes it extraordinary."

Piar said he tends to focus on detail rather than perspective, and hopes his photography will encourage people to look at the world differently. "I would encourage anyone who sees the show to see these as attempts to capture the essence of things," he said. "I would like people to walk out of there thinking, 'Wow, I have seen the world in a different way.' That, to me, would be the ultimate success."

A grand opening for Piar's "Structure & Space" will take place on Thursday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Arts Clayton, located at 136 South Main Street in Jonesboro. Entrance is free to the public, and food and refreshments will be served. For more information, call (770) 473-5457.