Story posted December 16, 2010
Kelley Lai-Ping Hackett '11 has been either playing or watching sports since she was old enough to toddle around. So it wasn't exactly surprising when the art history major turned her camera on three Bowdoin women athletes as part of an independent-study photography project.
For her, the unexpected part came as she began photographing them. She discovered that each of the women had bifurcated lives—they were athlete-artists and writers whose two worlds and identities rarely overlapped.
"With this project, I asked three athletes from Bowdoin if they would share with me how sports have affected their lives. Each athlete has a different story. In some cases, it's about the lessons learned, other times it becomes a part of their identity, and sometimes it is both."
Alexandra McLain '11 is both a ceramist and an Olympic-hopeful Surfski kayaker. Tiernan Cutler '11 is captain of the Women's Soccer Team and editor of the yearbook. Jay Greene '13 is both a hockey player and an artist, "yet she is never seen as both," says Hackett.
Hackett embarked on a photographic study of the women that pulls together objects and visual contexts from both of their identities, sometimes in diptych form. The results are on view at a solo exhibition at Smith Union, "Sporting Life," on display through January 2011.
"I found that objects helped bring the viewer in and make things very concrete," says Hackett. In several photos of Jay, the hockey player appears to be shooting works of sculpture across the ice as if they were pucks. "For the photos of Tiernan," adds Hackett, "you see the setup of yearbook and soccer ball and uniform and field, you are completely integrating her two identities.
"I'm actually a photographer who likes to catch moments," observes Hackett. "I don't like to set things up, but I spent the whole semester doing that. Some may seem over the top and some seem like they actually could happen."