By Bailey Norman
There is still time to catch “Seeing Through Psychics”, Dan R. Talley’s knockout photography exhibit at the Sykes Gallery in Breidenstine Hall before it closes on Feb. 22. Talley, a professor of fine arts at Kutztown University, offers viewers a haunting glimpse into the past with a series of 10 black and white photographs of antique objects: a ragdoll, boxes of undeveloped film, paint-chipped shutters, an old sink. All of these were discovered in a warehouse owned by the Allentown Preservation League.
While the compositions are provocative in their own right, what really makes this exhibit a must-see is its overarching concept: each object photographed was analyzed by a trained psychic or medium who described its supposed history and the people who interacted with it. Talley has taken the text of these testimonies and matted them beside his photographs on huge color swatches. The colors themselves were specifically identified by the psychics from the Pantone Color Book as the shade of spiritual radiance emanating from the objects.
Fans of history and the supernatural will relish the writings that accompany the photography. The stories are full of sadness and warmth. Some are infused with love, like the tale of a handrail ignored by the rich owners of its house, but cherished by the Caribbean maidservant as a “showpiece”. Many touch on harsh realities of life such as war, addiction, and disease.
The power of these accounts is in their variety and detail. Whether or not you are skeptical of extrasensory perception (ESP), the psychics are entertaining storytellers at the very least. Not only are we given the names of the objects’ owners, we are told how they wore their hair and what made them tick, their secrets and dreams. From a young disabled girl who plays with mysterious beings from the beyond to a bitter recluse, broken by her infant’s “crib death”, the cast of characters would give even Dickens a run for his money.