On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, an Open House gave visitors to the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) newly renovated Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, KY an eye full. SCI revealed a new, large exhibition of print photographs by legendary river photographer Gregory Thorp, featuring scenes on America’s inland waterways. In an electronic gallery, SCI also featured several photographs of other superlative photos from the nation’s river transportation companies and photographers, including John Guider and the Waterways Journal.
“It is a testament to our industry,” said the Rev. David M. Rider, President and Executive Director of SCI. “The images translate the rich tapestry of maritime companies, supporters, and volunteers at SCI into a visual masterpiece.”
The new facility includes 60 photographs—snippets of the river mariner’s unique life. Some highlights of the images, which are grouped thematically around the building, include a compelling close-up of a tug cook’s hands peeling potatoes for a crew meal; a lone mariner at the head of a tow; and a 6-foot tall triptych of deckhands laying barge rigging that takes up an entire wall. One onlooker said she felt she as if she were standing on the dock watching the action happen, and another saw an image of a potable water hose so realistic he tried to touch it.
Jennifer Koenig, Director of Special Events and Donor Relations, said, that when she walked down the halls of the refurbished Center, she could almost hear the rumble of engines and swish of sand as it was loaded into a barge. She said, “The industry comes to life for the viewer in this unique collection of photographs.”
Visitors are welcome to stop by and view the artwork at the Center in Paducah. The staff recommend that gallery viewers call ahead to check hours and class schedules, since active classrooms house some of the artwork.