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Nathan Dang and Kelly Packer at VAC

Photograpy meets multimedia art

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A new exhibit a Visual Arts Collective was grounds for a reunion.

Photographer Nathan Dang and painter Kelly Packer first showed together at the Hyde Park Gallery in 2006. This new exhibition is the first time they have shared a space since then. It also marks the first time Dang has shown his work in five years.

"I had a child and started a business, so there's been a lot of photograph taking but not a lot of photograph showing over the past couple of years," Dang said.

Packer is a multimedia artist but she primarily works with paint, using bright colors and layered structures to create striking abstracts. For the VAC exhibit, she created large-scale paintings, which are reminiscent of some of her smaller pieces. Dang also created a large installation for the exhibit: a site-specific project that is based on VAC's spaces and surrounding environs that is displayed digitally, "like a glorified slideshow, so to speak," he said.

Though he still shoots traditional photographs, Dang recently embraced digital photography, at least partly because the color chrome film he used in his Cannon A1 35mm for more than 12 years is no longer manufactured.

"Everything is digital now, so I wanted to present a piece that was all digital, shot and shown as a new medium," said Dang.

The approach Dang takes to his work has changed as well.

"There's a lot of technique in trying to stay fine art and high end with digital because anybody can do it. Creating something that's artwork is a different ball game," Dang said.

For the rest of his pieces in the exhibit, Dang drew from photographs taken over the course of his 20-year-plus career as a photographer, including a selection of photographs that were cut and reconfigured into diptychs and triptychs. The photographs capture urban landscapes and man-made objects in intimate compositions.

For Dang and Packer, collaborating for this exhibition made sense beyond just an opportunity to work together again.

"Similarities you'll see are geometric shapes, spacing and use of color," Dang said of his and Packer's work. "Our colors are totally different--she uses a lot more than I do. But the way we use them in the works is similar."

The exhibit runs through the end of September.

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