New IAC exhibit explores life during pandemic

The exhibit by artist Micah Mermilliod will be on display at TROY's International Arts Center until April 15.

The exhibit by artist Micah Mermilliod will be on display at TROY's International Arts Center until April 15.

Troy University’s International Arts Center (IAC) debuted a new photography exhibit, “Quarantine Walks” by Micah Mermilliod, on Feb. 8. The exhibit is a series of photo collages created from places and things that Mermilliod observed during his daily walks during the COVID-19 lockdown last year.

Mermilliod is a Mississippi native currently living in Mobile, Alabama, whose artistic specialty resides in collages of many different mediums and subjects. He earned a BFA in photography from the University of South Alabama and is currently working on his MFA in photography and printmaking.

He says he is mostly interested in using art to display adaptations that humans make in response to environmental catalysts.

“Since before mandatory curfews and stay-at-home orders were in place, I have always enjoyed going on long walks throughout my neighborhood,” Mermilliod said. “I would use these walks not just as a form of exercise, but also as a time of reflection.”

Like many people, Mermilliod said that during quarantine last spring and summer, these daily walks became a time of thought and reflection.

“While on these walks I have noticed changes in my surrounding community, both positive and negative, which are directly related to the impact coronavirus has had on society,” he said. “In these images I use art to document these changes.”

The pandemic gave Mermilliod the opportunity to document new adaptations to everyday activities and reframe them in an artistic way. The collages range in subject from quarantine activities within the home, to the grocery store, to empty tourist attractions in Mobile.

Carrie Jaxon, the curator for the IAC, saw the beauty in his simple pieces and said they offer a unique, current and relatable perspective into his life during the pandemic.

 “He explores the idea of environment and the simple act of walking in his neighborhood, observing the positive and negative impacts that have developed over the past year,” she said. “Micah’s talent is presented in his ability to find beautiful compositions and details in commonplace moments or spaces.”

The subjects of the photos, many times including inanimate things rather than people, give us an insight to the changes the pandemic has brought and will leave us with. Jaxon also said the layout of the pieces supported the message Mermilliod was portraying.

“His use of polaroid photos to create the compositions is playful and mesmerizing, encouraging our eyes to catch details that might otherwise be lost — and consequently leaving viewers with the desire to see how their environments and perspectives might have changed from the on-going pandemic,” she said.

The gallery will be up in the main hallway of the IAC until April 15.