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Nadia Sablin - TWU School of Arts

Sisters of tradition

TWU exhibitions celebrate rising photographers

Texas Woman’s University School of Arts has opened its 12th annual Joyce Elaine Grant Photography Exhibition. A solo show by photographer Nadia Sablin, the winner of the Joyce Elaine Grant 2012 Solo Show Award, opened with it.

The 12th annual Joyce Elaine Grant exhibit, named in memory of the mother of TWU photography professor and artist Susan kae Grant, includes the work of 30 artists. Photographers from across the country are eligible to submit work.

The show was curated by Sarah Kennel, the associate curator in the Department of Photographs for the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Sablin’s solo exhibit is inspired by her grandfather, who wanted to return to his childhood home in Leningrad, Russia. It was after World War II, and Sablin’s grandfather was losing his eyesight. In spite of his hardship, he dismantled his house log by log, and floated it down the Oyat river. He rebuilt the house on a hill in his home village.

More than half a century later, Sablin said, the house still stands. Two of her aunts live there during the warm months.

Her show, “Two Sisters,” documents their lives and relationship. Even though her aunts are in their 70s, they still carry on with the traditional way of life. They chop wood used to heat the house, gather well water and make their own clothes.

“Their close relationship in the absence of men has been a fascinating study in self-reliance, familial love and sibling rivalry,” Sablin says in her artist statement. “My memories of spending time with them as a child play a large role in the images I record now, following the rituals that have come down from several generations and which are becoming lost in much of Russia. My photographs of them are a meditation on aging, family and a sense of belonging.”

Both exhibitions run through March 20 in the East and West galleries in the TWU Art Building, located on Pioneer Circle off Oakland Street. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays when school is in session. Hours are by appointment on weekends. The galleries will be closed during spring break.

Proceeds from the Grant exhibition fund the Joyce Elaine Grant Photography Exhibition Endowment.

— Lucinda Breeding