County native’s exhibit at SICA until next month


Returning home to share his passion was an emotional experience for James Rice.

The 66-year-old Carmel resident who grew up in Brownstown reunited with family and friends Saturday evening during his “Real Cuba” photography exhibit reception at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts.

His 86-year-old aunt was there along with some familiar faces from years ago. He also had photography friends from Chicago and Los Angeles make the drive to attend.

“It meant a lot to me to have everyone come by,” he said. “It was pretty cool to have friends travel that distance for me and for family and friends to take the time.”

The exhibit, which features 50 black and white photographs from Rice’s trip to Cuba in March 2018 is on display at the center at 2001 N. Ewing St. until July 13.

Images of people selling items, sitting at home, playing games, walking and doing ordinary activities are pictured, leaving viewers with simple yet captivating images.

That’s Rice’s style of art, which is called documentary photography.

“Whether it’s the streets of Cuba or Seymour, that’s what I do,” he said. “My objective is to capture an ordinary moment with a touch of magic with it. Something that’s really special.”

Rice shoots most of his photographs in black and white.

One reason is because when he started taking photographs, there was very little color film. The other is because it limits the distractions he believes color brings to images, and it provides clarity.

“In black and white you can really capture the soul of what you’re photographing,” he said.

Rice is a part owner of HWC Engineering, which has done several projects in Jackson County, but photography is his passion.

He was introduced to photography by his mother, Marilyn, in the late 1950s when he was five or six years old.

“She gave me my first camera and that’s what started it,” he said.

Rice also was given many of her photographs while in his playpen as a child. Those photos provided him with entertainment while his parents tended to various tasks.

When he was 9, Rice lost his mother after a man entered his family’s home one morning after Rice had left for school. The man shot his mother in their bathroom and seriously injured his father.

Picking up a camera over the next 40 years was too difficult for Rice, but at the age of 49 he found his passion back at the suggestion of a friend.

“I just associated it with her death and getting me into photography, so I just walked away from it,” he said. “She was a great photographer, but I didn’t pick it back up.”

But after the lost time, Rice started using his eye to capture everyday moments.

He said he was thankful for the arts center for reaching out to him and is impressed with what it is able to do for local arts.

“I think it’s amazing what SICA is doing and has done for the community,” he said. “Art in its various forms can change people’s lives. SICA is a huge part of the culture of Jackson County, and I just can’t say enough good things about that.”

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What: Real Cuba photography display by James Rice

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday through July 13.

Where: Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, 2001 North Ewing Street.


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