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Sam McColloch's photography showcased in new exhibit at Marshall's South Charleston campus
Now the prize-winning photographer's work is being showcased in a new exhibit, "From Jackson's Mill to Paris: The Fine Art Photography of Sam McColloch" in the library on Marshall University's South Charleston campus at 100 Angus E. Peyton Dr. The exhibit will open with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, March 22. Both the reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.
Growing up in New Martinsville, McColloch and his sisters were frequent subjects of their father's camera as the elder McColloch snapped away, recording the trivia of everyday life, along with special celebrations and events. Sam McColloch soon followed in his father's footsteps and began shooting with his first Brownie reflex camera, a past-time that marked the beginning of a life-long passion for the beauty and artistry of black and white photography.
After receiving bachelor's and master's degrees in geology and chemistry from West Virginia University, McColloch went to work for Shell Oil Company and spent the next 28 years traveling extensively for them, particularly in the western part of the U.S.
In his travels, he kept his cameras always ready, looking with his artist's eye for any photo opportunity. His compositions most often centered around ordinary objects and places but were usually photographed from a unique viewpoint, which added texture and intriguing interest to the final result. He and his wife Carolyn, a native of Charleston, also traveled extensively in Europe, where he took some of his most-noted photos.
With no formal training, his unique style has won him acclaim and comparisons to Adams, a master of black and white photography. McColloch's photos, which have taken top prizes in numerous competitions, have been featured in exhibits throughout the U.S. and are in both private and corporate collections. They can also be found in permanent collections in the libraries at West Virginia University and Bethany College.
McColloch and his photographs are the subject of a cover story of the most recent issue of Goldenseal, which features his commentary along with accompanying photos.
McColloch is best known for his moody and atmospheric images of nature and common things, many, but not all, found outdoors gnarled and tangled tree roots, buildings shot from unorthodox angles, the webbed steel girding of a bridge, ancient standing rocks and modern urban skylines. One of his most-famous photographs, which later led to an entire series, came about when he noticed the uncanny similarity of the Houston, Texas, skyline to an ancient field of standing stones in Callanish, Scotland. He turned the images into a diptych, a related pair of photographs, and later won acclaim for the Callanish/Scotland Series which evolved.
Currently McCulloch and his wife, who is his assistant on most photo shoots, live near Austin, Texas, but periodically return to West Virginia equipped with cameras, ready to capture any shot that catches their fancy.
The Marshall University exhibit is made possible through the cooperation of McColloch's cousin, Jerry Gorby, owner of Gorby's Music in South Charleston. The cousins share an appreciation of fine art and several of McColloch's prints are on display in the showroom of Gorby's Music.