A peek inside 'Lucinda"s World'

Accomplished Southern photographer showcases her private life and art in new exhibit

Amid the stark light walls of Mason Murer Gallery is an older woman, her hair the same shade of grainy silver as an old black-and-white photograph. Although 83 years old, she stands strong among the assistants, who are measuring frames and hanging them on the walls of the gallery. These photos being hung, some like dreamscapes with cobwebs and leaves, others vibrant portraits of people known and obscure — are all hers.

Lucinda Bunnen, winner of the "Women in the Visual Arts" Award in 1997, has been photographing her unique vision of the world since she was 40 years old. After countless exhibitions across the Southeast and abroad, Bunnen is returning to one of her favorite Atlanta galleries to allow visitors a chance to peek into her personal life and art.

The exhibition, Lucinda's World, is a peek into the life and psyche of one of the South's most respected photographers and a friend to the arts. Alongside dozens of images of Bunnen's best photography, both digital and film, are pieces pulled from her private life. Visitors are invited to sit on her furniture and thumb through her personal journals, scrapbooks, and photo albums.

Through about 50 images on display in the show, Bunnen captures not only the orange-tinged landscapes of 1970s Atlanta, but also daily life in such far-off places as Egypt, Bosnia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The photos include sun-bleached faces of Asmat women, the dark figures of nuns standing on a beach by the sea, and the reflections of pyramids in a Cairo street vendor window.

"Every one of the places I've ventured to is so amazing," Bunnen says of her extensive travels. "And the excitement I get from finding the picture and taking the picture is something that I really love. It's capturing a moment and sharing it that's special. It's something that lasts."

One of the most lasting and famed photos Bunnen has captured is of "Daddy King," or Martin Luther King Sr. This portrait was pulled from her archives and printed specifically for display in Lucinda's World, as was her photo of then-governor Jimmy Carter playing tennis.

The idea is for visitors to interact with the world through Bunnen's lens and writings: A retro green couch pulled from her late husband's office invites guests to sit down, and personal journals, yellow from age, spill out of an old trunk, eager to be read. On the decades-old coffee table sit dozens of photo albums. One of the larger prints features a picture of Bunnen beside Hillary Clinton, both smiling.

One person happy to see Bunnen's work brought to life is Matthew Terrell, an Atlanta-based writer and photographer, who curated the exhibit. More than that, however, Terrell is a friend and assistant to Bunnen.

"Lucinda is one of the most interesting people to be around," Terrell says. "She has all of these really fascinating stories and experiences. We channeled that [level of fascination] in the exhibit. The gallery looks like her house, which is full of art and curiosities. We call it 'Lucinda's World' because it's not just a glimpse into her home, but her work from literally all over the world."

Visitors to Lucinda's World can also take away something tangible (and free) from the exhibit: four boxes containing innumerable one-of-a-kind snapshots taken by Bunnen.

"The interactiveness of the show is going to be fun and exciting," Bunnen says. "These are all pieces off my own walls and from my home. I will miss them, but I don't have any more room on my walls and under beds to store them!"

Lucinda's World is the final exhibit at Mason Murer's current location at Armour Drive. The gallery is soon moving down the block, but Director Mark Karelson does not expect this to be the last he sees of Bunnen.

"It's an honor to work with someone like Lucinda," Karelson says. "She's one of those people that, if she isn't here, you notice."

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