The Yeiser Art Center's annual Art Through The Lens photography exhibition returned this past weekend, bringing entries from around the region and world to the downtown gallery.

"With a show of this scale, it obviously means that Paducah is growing and wants to have more of a global conversation," said Lexie Abra Millikan, executive director of the Yeiser Art Center. "When the community will support international exhibitions, that's very telling that they want to be a part of that broader community."

The regional part of the competition plays a big role in what the Yeiser would like to accomplish with the exhibition, helping to highlight local artists and put them on the same stage as international photographers.

Out of over 500 total submissions and 70 show selections, Murray photographer Zandra Raines' "Rebel Yell" took Best of Show in the main competition.

"The series by Zandra has a concept and is relevant to today's issue, but it is its subtle nature that attracted me," juror Cheryl Zibisky said. "The tiny flame and smoke rolling out of the model's mouth are strengthened by the size of this piece. The viewers need to come closer to see. With such a controversial object confronting the viewer, the artist's decision to print the piece large, she has prompted us to dig deeper."

In her artist statement, Raines -- whose photograph shows herself with a Confederate flag on fire in her mouth -- spoke about being the first in her family to leave home for a higher education, which she feels put her in a kind of limbo.

"Trying to reconcile this is uncomfortable and sometimes feels futile," she said. "I am using my body and personal experience to engage with the broader cultural concept of class and push the viewer to examine their own relationship to this social construct."

Lauren Chambers' "Portrait of a Gorilla" got first place, "Raymond Bonavida's "Moondance No.2" second and Scott Durka's "Gunnison Bend Dam, Utah" third.

"Schadenfreude," from Paducah's Basil Drossos, took first place in the regional showcase, followed by David Hammond's "Tesla Tree" in second and Rose Bowman's "femME" in third.

Ronald Toth's "Isoetes sp. stem and leaves," Paul Grumley's "The Fence" and Zandra Raines' "Whitetail" earned honorable mentions in the regional showcase. Stephen Honicki's "The Cleansing" and Gabriel Selvaggio's "Pai (Dad)" garnered the same in the main competition.

The Yeiser Art Center handed out over $5,000 in prizes to artists during the opening reception at the gallery Saturday, where the winners were named. The exhibit will be on display through November 19.

Located at 200 Broadway St., the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 during regular opening hours, except Wednesday when admission is free. Yeiser members always receive free admission to exhibitions.

For information, call 270-442-2453 or visit www.theyeiser.org.

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