Lynchburg native and Old Dominion University Senior Demel Bolden made his first gallery premiere during the Academy’s First Fridays event on August 7th.
“It all began with a photography class my mom made me take at E.C. Glass,” said Demel, “and an old camera with no lens that my grandma gave me, and here we are now.”
Demel’s experience in his high school photography class greatly influenced his newfound passion. “I learned the history of photography, composition, and lighting basics, how to use programs like photoshop, etc,” said Demel. “It helped me in many ways and allowed me to get ahead of the game skill-wise.” Demel has only been practicing photography for a little more than one year.
Demel’s photography was premiered on August 7, 2020, with an exhibit featuring various types of photographs “with deep meaning behind them”.
“This one was shot in late April when COVID-19 was going strong. I didn’t have the opportunity to create or do much of anything and was becoming creatively frustrated,” said Demel, referring to his piece ‘I Hope I Make it Out‘”.
“I originally titled this piece, ‘I Hope I Make it Out’, was based on the song by Brent Faiyaz,” said Demel, “but what this piece really reflected was my hope that I would make it out of this creative block.”
“You know of the social injustices and racism that has taken place recently in our country,” said Demel as he spoke about his piece ‘Threat 2 Society’“. “I had a lot of friends and peers reach out to me and ask me how I was feeling being that I am a black man myself, but I couldn’t vocalize how I felt. ‘Threat 2 Society’ is a piece that’s personal to me and reflects my experiences as a black male,” said Demel, “but also to create something that’s easy on the eyes and sends a pure and strong message that isn’t aggressive or violent. That’s why I chose to shoot at the basketball court.”
Demel’s ‘Threat 2 Society’ piece features five photographs taken of three black males (various ages) at a local basketball court. Basketball has been a major part of Demel’s life as he refers to the sport as what used to be his, “eat and sleep”.
“‘Threat 2 Society’ is my way of expressing how I feel about the way the world is today and the oppression I face as a young black male,” said Demel. “This piece is the most personal, not only of the exhibit but of all my work and shows how strongly I feel about this matter.”
What roughly began as a hobby in early 2019 after a secondhand camera was gifted to him from his grandmother, Demel’s photography has come a long way since he started with looks of a very promising future.
See Demel Bolden’s exhibit in person by making an appointment with Ted Batt our Director of Visual Arts at [email protected]