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Boardman native artist to hold first solo exhibition

January 23, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Boardman graduate, Tyler Calpin, will be having his first solo exhibition from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 25) at Social Status, 717 Liberty Ave., in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work entitled "Searching for Jenny" is a visual account of the city's present industrial and economic status by surveying past and presently existing sites of physical labor.

Calpin is a 2015 graduate of Boardman High School who is presently attending Point Park University. He is studying photography there and is working towards his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. As to how he got into photography, Calpin blames Instagram.

"As embarrassing as this sounds, I got into photography because of Instagram," he said. "I was always taking photos at the park, on vacation, etc., editing and posting them to the platform. My sophomore year, I enrolled in a black and white photography class at BHS. Once I was given a roll of film, a 35mm SLR and introduced to the darkroom, my passion for the medium consumed me."

Article Photos

Boardman native Tyler Calpin poses with some fine art photos at a show last year. This Friday (Jan. 25) he will be having his first solo exhibition at Social Status, 717 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Today he likes photographing everything and anything, but his focus seems to be on the past.

"I don't really like to put myself in a box, because I honestly take photos of everything," he said. "Right now, much of my work deals with Youngstown (looking at its present state to understand the past), relationships and identity (I just finished a year-long project with my father that is about coming of age, masculinity and differing methods of labor. I'm also working on an iPhone project where I photograph food/garbage that I find on the streets of downtown Pittsburgh."

Calpin uses whatever equipment he feels will work best for the present situation. He was shooting 35mm film with a Contax T2 for a while, but recently upgraded to a Mamiya 645 Super. A majority of the work that he made for this weekend's exhibition was shot with a Mamiya 7 using Kodak Portra 400 film. Other pieces from this project are shot with my Nikon d750.

Calpin will have nine pieces in this first exhibition. Those pieces will cover the present state of Youngstown's great steel industry, something that is near to Calpin's family.

"I have lineage that ties my family to the industry, so I wanted to understand more about that time period through research," he said. "That research ultimately guided me to various spots in Youngstown. I would just walk around and photograph what I felt was a relic of that time period. I also have done my best to avoid photographing copious amounts of rust, but it is inevitable when exploring Youngstown."

As for Social Status, Calpin said it is a retail store specializing in high end streetwear and street fashion. It is five blocks from Calpin's dorm room and it didn't take long to find out the store doubled as a fine arts gallery.

"It's about five blocks from Point Park, so I used to go shop there," he said. "After applying for a job three summers in a row, they finally gave me a sales associate position. Once the employees got to know me and my work, they offered me the opportunity to show my work in the space. However, it does double as a gallery space, as it is a stop for the Gallery Crawl that happens in Downtown Pittsburgh. They do various events, including pop-up shops, music events and art exhibitions."

As for the immediate future, Calpin said he was using this show as a preview for his senior thesis show titled "Split" which will be held at Artist Image Resource on April 11. That is a stepping stone for his long range goals.

"My goals as a photographer are to continue working as a fine artist and exhibiting my work in galleries in the region," Calpin said. "I would like to see myself expand and have shows in other places in the country, especially Chicago. I aim to work outside of the realm of fine art as well, doing whatever freelance and photography assistant work I can."



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