Photo exhibit at Darlington Chamber office puts spotlight on Nucor Steel

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington photographer Ronda Gandy’s exhibition “Taking it Further than Paper,” currently on display at the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce, features an array of images from the Nucor Steel plant affixed to a most appropriate medium: actual Nucor steel.

The exhibit started out as an independent project for an art class at Francis Marion University, and Gandy’s goal was admittedly ambitious.

“I wanted to try and transfer photos from digital onto steel. I came up with that idea because my husband works at Nucor and he was telling me about the flat steel they make. I thought that might be a good surface for the project,” says Gandy.

Nucor donated some steel flats and arranged a tour of their Darlington plant, during which Gandy took numerous pictures of iconic steel manufacturing equipment, such as smelting vats filled with bright orange liquid steel. She also photographed the men and women of Nucor hard at work, and selected some of the best shots for transfer onto flat steel plates and C-shaped sections of channel steel.

Gandy says for several weeks, her home became a sort of photo lab where she experimented with different methods for fixing her images to the steel surfaces.

“My house was covered in nothing but this stuff… It took me about three months to come up with chemicals to make the pictures stay on the steel,” she says, and describes a cocktail of DASS photo chemicals, alcohol, Windex, and heat that finally did the trick.

The resulting images are layered with meaning, showcasing the people who make Nucor steel and the daunting scale of the steel manufacturing process, then enshrining those images on tangible examples of their work. The flats and channel pieces are not polished to cosmetic perfection, either, so their whorls and texture add another layer of character to the images.

In addition to the Nucor photos, the exhibit showcases portraits transferred to tempered glass, photos of storm-tossed boats (battered by Hurricane Matthew) transferred onto wood, as well as framed photographs of local agriculture operations and the personnel and equipment of the Darlington Fire Department.

Norm Steadman, executive director of the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce, says the spacious and well-lit Chamber offices make an ideal gallery space for artworks.

“We want to showcase local talent,” says Steadman, adding that he wants to develop the Chamber as a display space so that art lovers regularly stop by to see new exhibits and – perhaps – buy some of the works to support area artists. “The long term goal is to have something on display year-round, and to have that known to the community so they can just stop in and see it.”

Ronda Gandy’s photographic exhibition will continue through June 16. To contact her about her works, email The Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce is located at 38 Public Square, and their phone number is 843-393-2641

Author: Duane Childers

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