Visitors at Middle Tennessee State University‘s acclaimed Baldwin Photographic Gallery can learn more about an often-missed side of Nashville’s neon in a new exhibit, “The Drake,” focusing on photographer Tamara Reynolds’ images of the people of the Drake Motel.
“The Drake” is on display weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Saturday, March 4, in the Baldwin Gallery, located in Room 269 of the university’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building at 1735 Blue Raider Drive.
Reynolds, an MTSU alumna with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, also will be joined Tuesday, Feb. 21, for an interdisciplinary panel discussion about her photos’ subjects with MTSU professors in the fields of social work, criminal justice administration, health and human performance, and elementary and special education.
That panel discussion, set for 6 p.m. Feb. 21, will be held in Room 104 of MTSU’s Academic Classroom Building, 1751 MTSU Blvd.
Both the exhibit and the discussion are free to the public. A campus parking map is available at https://bit.ly/MTSUParking. Off-campus gallery visitors can park free in the university’s Rutherford Boulevard Lot and ride the Raider Xpress shuttle to the Bragg building.
Reynolds’ work in this exhibit includes portraits, still lifes and streetscapes that document the lives of people who live just above survival on a square block in the shadows of the Drake Motel.
The stone-walled motor court, located on busy Murfreesboro Road in Nashville, is about two miles from the neon lights of the downtown entertainment district, the historic Ryman Auditorium and the city’s convention center.
The historic motel, with its distinctive “Stay Where the Stars Stay” sign motto and Nashville-focused painted room murals, has a storied past and has been a popular location for film shoots with stars such as River Phoenix and Dolly Parton. Reynolds’ images, however, all address the present by briefly capturing the days and nights of the less known residents who are living with addiction on the margins of society.
The Feb. 21 panel discussion will include MTSU faculty members:
• Vickie Harden, coordinator of the Master of Social Work Program in the Department of Social Work.
• Elizabeth Quinn Wright, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Administration.
• Thomas Black, an associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Special Education.
• Ashleigh E. McKinzie, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
• Bethany Ann Wrye, an associate professor of community and public health in the Department of Health and Human Performance.
Reynolds worked in commercial photography for 25 years and now is a full-time documentary photographer. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hartford and in 2022 became a member of the College of Media and Entertainment’s Wall of Fame for her continuing professional excellence.
Her honors include a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and a BarTur Photo Award. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, PBS News Hour, the Oxford American, Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal, among many outlets.
She’s also collected her images from the Drake Motel into a book, which will be available to buy at a post-discussion reception at the Baldwin Gallery. To learn more about Reynolds and her work, visit her website at https://tamarareynoldsphotography.com.
MTSU’s Baldwin Photographic Gallery, which is marking its 59th anniversary at MTSU in 2023, is part of the university’s College of Media and Entertainment. It’s located at the top of the stairwell in the Bragg Building’s interior courtyard.
Guests can arrange public tours by contacting gallery curator Shannon Randol, who also is an assistant professor of photography in the Department of Media Arts, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays when MTSU classes are in session.
To learn more about the College of Media and Entertainment, visit https://mtsu.edu/media.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)