"Tea?" by Rene Hales
“Tea?” by Rene Hales

Twelve of Kentucky’s finest female photographers have assembled a group exhibit using the theme “Maps of the Imagination.” The show is currently on display at the Actors Theatre Gallery, and it’s also a part of 2015 Louisville Photo Biennial.

“Maps of the Imagination” is a collaboration between Actors Theatre and the Kentucky Women Photographers Network, which was formed in 2005 by three photographers — Dobree Adams, Susan E. King and Carol Peachee — as a way to share artistic experiences, exchange ideas and information, and critique each other’s work.

"The Tide That Bonds" by Sharon Ruble
“The Tide That Bonds” by Sharon Ruble

The photographs in the exhibit offer a glimpse into the minds of the esteemed artists, and each will take you on a visual journey as the photographers offer their own interpretation of the theme.

Lee Ann Paynter, one of the artists in the exhibit, tells Insider there is a wide variety of imagery represented in the show — “from macro to abstract, from around the world and down the street,” she says — and besides submitting the work based on “Maps of the Imagination,” the only other common thread of the work is being a female photographer living in Kentucky.

Paynter is an activist and educator who has exhibited her work regionally and nationally. She works with traditional methods of photography, digital media and video installation, and often tackles social and political issues examining the ideas and agency around intolerance and acceptance. She joined the Kentucky Women Photographers Network in 2007 while she was an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky.

Paynter explains more to Insider about the exhibit and what it means to be a part of this year’s Photo Biennial.

Insider Louisville: How did this show came about, and what’s the meaning behind the title “Maps of the Imagination”?

Lee Ann Paynter: Our network ebbs and flows as far as activity goes, and it is based on both need and opportunity. In the past, we have invited guest artists to come and do workshops with us, and we also hold our own workshops focusing on various photographic skills and techniques. When the right opportunity arises, we do love to exhibit. I think this is the third time we have had a group exhibition as a part of the Louisville Photo Biennial (2007 and 2009 as well), and our member Dobree Adams got a lead on the Actors Theatre Gallery as a possible venue for us this year.

This group of artists is so diverse as far as individual style and photographic mediums. In this show, Rene Hales’ work is using the Photo Encaustic process; another artist, Sharon Ruble, is using a Holga Camera and 120 film; some of Ruth Adams’ work that is represented is Scanner as Camera, and her other images are Platinum Prints. Creativity stems from the imagination, and that is something we all have in common — a strong creative imagination and the desire to create compelling work. Your imagination can take you anywhere, and as Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

"July Sky" by Lee Ann Paynter
“July Sky” by Lee Ann Paynter

IL: What does it mean to you to have your show be a part of the Louisville Photo Biennial?

LAP: It is a great honor to be a part of the Louisville Photo Biennial again! This awesome event has continued to grow and gain more and more national recognition. Paul Paletti and the committee that organizes the Biennial put in unknowable amounts of work to make this thing happen, and it is really a treat for the city of Louisville and the entire area. We are so thrilled to be a part of the buzz this year, and especially honored to be exhibiting at Actors Theatre. It’s a gorgeous venue with great people and a long-standing fine art tradition of excellence. Thanks to Roanne Victor and Sara Durham for having us!

IL: What do you hope people take away from the exhibit?

LAP: I don’t really like to lead people’s thoughts about what to expect, but I hope patrons will get a little lost in the images, and that they go wherever their own imagination takes them. I hope they revel in the variety of work and take the time to get close — close enough to see the details in these maps and see the insight to the artists’ imaginations and observations.

“Maps of the Imagination” continues through Oct. 25 at the Actors Theatre Gallery, 316 W. Main St. An artists’ reception is planned for Friday, Oct. 9, from 5:30-8 p.m.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."