The Black Box Student Gallery hosted Abandoned Arkansas on March 10. This show featured photography student Michael Schwarz’s work from around the state and in Oklahoma.
Abandoned Arkansas is a team of photographers who travel around the state taking pictures in an effort to preserve historic buildings and deserted sites. Schwarz founded the company in 2012 and remains CEO of it today.
“Back when I started in 2012 I really only did it because it was cool,” Schwarz said.
Schwarz continued to tell a story of how his motives changed. He said he had been taking pictures at an abandoned school over a long period of time when one day he saw on the news that it had caught fire.
He visited the site the next day to capture some photos of what was left when he saw a lady crying in what was once a hallway. She told him that this was the last tangible place she had to remember her husband. In that moment, Schwarz knew he could give her those photos to preserve her memories of the once-standing school.
“My internal goal is to document these places in some way before they are gone forever,” Schwarz said.
The gallery also featured Schwarz’s senior film, a project entitled “Shutter.” He filmed “Shutter” at the abandoned Majestic Hotel and at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Ark. The film contained no dialogue or music. In it, two characters were able to see the hotel during present day and visit it in all of its beauty of the past through the click of a camera.
“Probably my favorite place is the Majestic Hotel. It’s really cool and it’s what led me to do this around Arkansas,” Schwarz said.
Some of the places Schwarz has preserved through photos include Dogpatch USA in Marble Falls, Gazzola Memorial Mercy Hospital in Brinkley, Alexander Human Development Center, the Arkansas Democrat building in Little Rock and Conway Roller Rink.
“I think that people should know that this is a big deal because Michael is a student just like us,” senior Marie Desrochers, co-director of the Black Box Student Gallery, said.
“This is a solo show and not many people have a show like this that are an undergrad,” she said.
This exhibit will be open through March 16 and students are encouraged to stop by. For more information about Abandoned Arkansas visit www.AbandonedAR.com. To find out about upcoming events at the Black Box Student Gallery go to uca.edu/art/blackbox/.