‘Bulgaria Two Views’ shows the country from the eyes of a native and visitor
May 11, 2018 12:09PM
By Keyra Kristoffersen
The Plovdiv opening night of “Bulgaria Two Views” exhibition 2017. (Brian Baity)
By Keyra Kristoffersen | [email protected]
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center is hosting a photo exhibit from May 1-26 called "Bulgaria Two Views." The exhibition combines photos of the country taken by West Valley resident Brian Baity and Bulgarian photojournalist Dragomir Bogomilov.
"I've been there seven times totaling a year of my life and every time I go, I take my camera and document whatever I find of interest," said Baity who began traveling to Bulgaria in 2011 to display eggshell art. "I like photography and I like nature so I spent a lot of time wandering the hills and mountains and shooting photos."
After the opportunity came about for Baity to view a live exhibit of Steve McCurry's work, the man who photographed the famous green-eyed "Afghan Girl," Baity realized that he had seen similarly striking subject on his travels. He had previously met Bogomilov (who has been shown in “National Geographic” three times for his working covering archaeological digs in Bulgaria) because as an English-speaking photojournalist, Bogomilov had been assigned to cover Baity's egg exhibits around the country.
The idea for the exhibit was that Bogomilov, as a photojournalist and a Bulgarian, use previous photos or document what he finds of interest in his country, and as a non-native Baity would photograph things that he found interesting in Bulgaria and the culture and combine 20 photographs each to create "Bulgaria Two Views." The first exhibits took place in Karovo and Isperih, Bulgaria in 2016 and for two months of 2018, have been in the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo before coming to the UCCC.
"I have strong ties to this cultural center," said Baity, who has been part of several art exhibits at the cultural center through the years. "That's where I showed eggs for the first time and it was that exhibition in 2010 that led me to going to Bulgaria."
Baity said he has a lot of plans tied into the exhibit, showing it in both Bulgaria and Utah but also using his connections as a member of the West Valley Sister City committee to connect with U.S. cities across the nation that have Sister Cities in Bulgaria and looking to display the photos through them, connecting them all. The 2018 Bulgaria Two Views exhibition plus the Easter Eggstravaganza at the Covey Center for the Arts were part of the TEDxTalks BYU where Baity had the opportunity to fill the role of "Meet the Artist" for the thousand people that attended. He will also be showing the exhibit at the Utah State Fair where he will be speaking about travel photography. A book is also planned where Baity and Bogomilov can show the photos that couldn't be included in the exhibit along with more detailed descriptions of the culture, area and people.
"I love collaborations," said Baity. "Every show I've done in the last five or six years, even overseas, I'll bring other people's two-dimensional work to compliment my 3D work and give them an international presence."
Along with the "Bulgaria Two Views" exhibition and Baity's continued work in eggshell carving, he recently completed his third project with students and teachers at Westmore Elementary in Orem where a classroom has been set aside for preschool-aged children from the School for the Deaf and Blind are integrating with other children.
Teacher Sandra Peppin approached Baity and requested help with a project combining 6th-grade students with preschoolers from the Deaf and Blind class. The first year, the theme was "Breaking Barriers" and the students teams carved gourds and attached them to a 4-foot wall hanging with crushed eggshells set into the words. The second year, the students made a bench with hand-print art and the words "No Put-Downs, Compliments Spoken Here" with the corresponding Braille letters set under each word.
This year, the students, teachers, aides and Baity created a 4-foot by 4-foot friendship quilt made of wooden tiles decorated with things that were important to each contributor like fidget spinners and a mini wagon. For the blind children, each piece was made tactile, for the deaf children, they were made bright and everything is designed to be touched and seen.
"It's been a blast," said Baity. "One of the highlights of my year now, and we're already figuring out what projects we're going to do next year."
The Utah Cultural Celebration Center is at 1355 W. 3100 South in West Valley City and information about Baity's upcoming projects can be found at http://www.brianbaity.com/