Photo gallery in Dunlap honors victims of the Sept. 11 attacks
An exhibition in Dunlap honors the lives lost during the Sept. 11 attacks through photos of the memorial in New York City.
The photos for the exhibition at Creative Soul Gallery, 208 N. 2nd St. — running through Oct. 3 — were taken by Bennett Johnson, an award-winning photographer and retired architect.
He said he sees the gallery as a way to bring a little bit of the NYC memorial to Peoria, and inspire people to go see it for themselves. He said it also honors people in Peoria who were impacted in some way by the attacks.
“It turns out that there have been unexpected connections with some of the people that were affected by 9/11, immediately, and so forth,” he said. “So, it added a little bit to the idea that even in Peoria, there are people here who unexpectedly had something to do with either first responders or so forth.”
Johnson said for the photos he focused on three main elements: the memorial pool, the One World Trade Center and the Oculus Center. He said when capturing photos at a place like the memorial, it can be difficult to create a unique image.
“Certainly millions of pictures are taken every day by everybody,” he said. “So what unique aspect can I provide?”
Johnson said he focused on capturing the memorial for people who hadn’t been there before. His photos include pictures of the buildings, names of those who died and the visitors to the three locations.
One of his favorite things about the memorial was the knowledge the guides and docents had.
“Many of the guides or docents there were related in some fashion to first responders, or to people that had died,” he said. “And they knew everything, you could ask them any question. Their knowledge was unbelievable.”
Johnson uses his Nikon and his IPhone when capturing photos. He said with the improvements that have been made to the IPhone camera, it’s sometimes the best option for the photo he wants to take.
He said he doesn’t categorize his photos, and simply captures an image of anything that interests him. But as a retired architect, his knowledge of buildings still shapes how he takes certain photos.
“Well, it's inevitable. I say that any photographer cannot avoid being autobiographical,” he said. “Whatever your experience has been, you incorporate it into what you shoot.”
The Creative Soul Gallery will host an artist reception on Saturday, and the exhibition will run until Oct. 3.
Johnson’s work also can be viewed at his photo studio in the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, 305 Southwest St.