Arts & Culture

The art of learning

Hilton Head Island resident Brenda Curley was inspired to take a picture of a photograph in an exhibit of Bob Ovelman’s photography at the Osher Lifelong Learning Center at Pineland Station.
Hilton Head Island resident Brenda Curley was inspired to take a picture of a photograph in an exhibit of Bob Ovelman’s photography at the Osher Lifelong Learning Center at Pineland Station. Jay Karr/The Island Packet

The walls were once bare in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Now they're covered with images of the world.

Robert Ovelman's photographs detailing his travels serve as Osher's inaugural art exhibit at its Hilton Head Island location.

The classroom will serve as a gallery and will be open to the public during the week. The art also will be worked into the curriculum. Every few months a new artist will exhibit work. As part of that, the artist also will teach a class.

"We wanted to create a space where people can enjoy art, not just our classes," said Osher director Andrea Sisino.

Ovelman's work will be on display until December when painter and multimedia artist Amiri Farris takes over.

Ovelman, who has lived on Hilton Head for 10 years, was an architect by trade but always shot photos in his spare time. He'd travel the world, grabbing glances of Eastern European cities or desert scenes in the Middle East. He was working for Amtrak when he convinced his bosses to let him start a project -- photographing the employees at work. It was an extension of his fascination of telling the stories of people through images.

His work has landed him some fame. He's been named the Philadelphia Camera Club Photographer of the Year and twice won the grand prize at the Ritz camera company's national photography competition.

One of those award-winning photos is on display at Osher. It's of boys scrawling graffiti in a Los Angeles ghetto. Ovelman said he saw them while driving through city. He got out of the car and said he was intrigued by their work and asked to take a photo. The teens were a little wary but allowed him to photograph as long as he didn't capture their faces.

Like much of his work, the face is obscured in the final photograph, but the story still gets told.

"You can tell so much about the world through photography," he said. "I love to meet people in their part of the world."

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