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GIT student’s work featured by Spiva Center for the Arts

PhotoSpiva is a national photography competition hosted each year by Spiva Center for the Arts. The competition is open to any photographer in the United States.  

Senior in graphic communications Lauren Bryan’s ‘In Sickness and in Health’ is part of the PhotoSpiva 2021 exhibit. The Spiva Center for the Arts is located in Joplin and Bryan’s work can be viewed there.  

“It’s a really special thing to be accepted into a gallery and even more so your hometown gallery,” Bryan said. “I’ve absolutely loved getting to take my family and friends to see the PhotoSpiva exhibit.” 

Spiva spans a large area from Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, Northeast Oklahoma, and Northwest Arkansas. According to their website, the mission of Spiva is to, “…promote the arts, to nurture creative expression, and to stimulate and educate diverse audiences within the four-state region.”  

“In Sickness and in Health’ is a take on the good days and the bad days,” Bryan said. “An honest look into those days when the world seems beautiful, and smiles are easy to come by but also those days when everything just feels out of whack and simply getting out of bed takes every ounce of courage you have. On the left side of the image, viewers see a young woman seeking community and playing a board game with her friends. She is smiling, genuinely happy, and wearing a nice outfit. On the right side of the image, one can see the same young woman sitting by herself, eating take-out, and staring at her computer. She appears sad, disconnected, and is wearing sweats and a sweatshirt.” 

Every year, many individuals deal with mental health issues.  

“This photo stemmed from a really great conversation with professor Rion Huffman about stress and anxiety and their prevalence in this day and age,” Bryan said. “Professor Huffman had just assigned our Creative Portrait Series final assignment in Portrait Photography, and I immediately thought, ‘I could make something out of this.” 

Bryan is no stranger to those types of issues.   

“This photo resonates with me not only as a creative person who appreciates art and photography but also as a person who can get pretty stressed and anxious at times,” Bryan said. “I feel like I got to tell a large part of my own story through these images and really hope that others can find their own stories in them as well.”  

Seeing her work displayed in the Spiva Center for the Arts is special for Bryan not only as a photographer but as someone who has visited the center previously.  

“Professor Huffman’s encouragement was one of the biggest factors in entering my work in PhotoSpiva,” Bryan said. “I am also from the Joplin area and have been visiting the Spiva Center for the Arts with my family ever since I was little. There’s something really special about getting to enter work to possibly be featured in your hometown gallery.”  

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