ATEC Building Gallery Hosts Opening Exhibition

Through his art, photographer Ken Light has documented an array of social issues for more than 40 years. Light will discuss some of his work on Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Davidson Auditorium, which currently appears in the campus exhibit “Physical Labor: Photographs of Workers, 1940 to the Present.”

Light’s work in the exhibit features workers from across the United States, from the California fields, south to the Mississippi Delta, and across to the Appalachian coal mining country.

“The physicality of labor can be understood in these photographs, which use the documentary approach to raise awareness through social activism, while at the same time serve as vehicles of artistic expression. The hands, faces and feet of the manual laborer often reveal the full effects of the labor left behind on the body,” said PhD student Lupita Murillo Tinnen, who is curating the exhibit.

Currently on display in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building Gallery, “Physical Labor” features photographs by Light, but is also complemented by a range of works from the Comer Collection. The exhibition includes photographs by Sebastião Salgado, Joel Leivick, Marcus Bleasdale, George “Elfie” Ballis, Ernest Lowe, Arthur Leipzig, Gordon Parks and Luis Mallo.

“Feet of the campesino,” Oaxaca, Mexico, 1986.

This exhibition marks the first decade of the Comer Collection in the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas; the collection was initiated in 2004 through a donation from Marilyn and Jerry Comer. This wide-ranging archive, made up of more than 300 photographs and hundreds of books and journals, serves as a resource for graduate students pursuing research in the area of photographic practice and contemporary art.  Documentation of exhibitions organized from the collection is available at

Light has been published in eight books. He is also the author of Witness in Our Time: Lives of Working Documentary Photographers, now in its second edition. His work has been in numerous photo essays in magazines, newspapers and a variety of media, and presented in exhibitions worldwide including a one person show at the International Center for Photography in New York City. He is the Reva and David Logan professor of photojournalism at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the University’s Center for Photography.

“Gathering la leña (firewood) for cooking,” Michoacán, Mexico, 1985.

Tinnen holds a master’s of fine arts in photography from the University of North Texas and a bachelor’s in photography from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Tinnen serves on the National Board of Directors for the Society for Photographic Education. As an artist, her work deals primarily with cultural and personal issues stemming from her background as a first-generation MexicanAmerican and has been exhibited throughout the United States

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, there will be a reception before Light’s talk from 6-7 p.m. in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building Gallery. Both Light and Tinnen will attend.