Artist portrays junkyard cars

Emily Cope

University photographer Bob Christy and Diane Sperko, manager of Design Solutions, set up Broken Down Heroes, a photo project by Christy. The gallery is now open and will close Oct. 31. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

Most people would cringe at the thought of busted alternators, bent grills and broken headlights.

Bob Christy is not one of those people. Instead, the image of a run-down vehicle makes him reach for his camera.

Christy, a Kent State alumnus and university photographer, has created Broken Down Heroes, a collection of about 100 photographs that depict the effects of time on abandoned automobiles. His pictures are set mainly in rural Ohio. The cars range from 1918 Willys-Overland to a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle.

About 30 pieces from the collection are on display in the lobby of Audio Visual Services on the third floor of the Kent University Library until Oct. 30.

Christy has set some guidelines for the artworks.

“All the pictures are black and white,” he said. “They are full frame, meaning I don’t crop after the fact. The cars I photograph can’t be newer than 1969, and they can’t run. I also won’t tell people exactly where the car is so the cars’ owners aren’t bothered.”

Christy said he was first inspired to take the photos during a reporting assignment. He said he looked across the street, saw an old run-down car and just couldn’t get over how beautiful it was.

“Cars are so generic now,” Christy said. “Those old cars have soul and a personality. Cars just meant more back then. For a farmer in the 1930s, a car meant freedom; it was a luxury. Now it’s expected for someone to have a car.”

Diana Sperko, manager of media services, said the exhibit is a chance for students to share in Christy’s art.

“This show is unique,” Sperko said. “Bob Christy presents old cars after nature’s done with them (and depicts) them in a new way. It shows how art is created.”

Senior architecture major Sara Shonk said the exhibit was interesting because it offered a different view of the world.

“I don’t think black and white photography is often seen anymore,” Shonk said. “It makes it almost feel like the pictures were taken when the cars themselves were made. It’s a great effect.”

Contact College of the Arts reporter Emily Cope at [email protected].