Library exhibits legend


Charles Ray showcase shines a light on a master photographer

For the past few weeks, Florida Gulf Coast has held a gold mine of art that not many students are aware of. On the third floor, in the library’s archive, exists an exhibit called “The Story Behind The Story.”
The exhibit is composed of a timeline of Charles Ray’s life as a news reporter. Most importantly, it showcases the culture and events of the latter twentieth century that formed America today.
Before Charles Ray passed away, he donated the contents of this exhibit to FGCU.
The archive shows Charles Ray’s brilliance as a journalist and photographer because he was always where the story was. Whether it be civil rights protests, an Apollo space launch, or the Watergate scandal, Charles Ray was there and ready to make news.
Melissa VandeBurgt, the digital services librarian of FGCU, manages the archives and special collections like “The Story Behind The Story.” Before VandeBurgt came along, the archives were available but left empty for many years. What was the first collection to go in? The Charles Ray art exhibit. “Our archives belong to you.” VandeBurgt says. She finds it crucially important to make exhibits like these accessible to the public. Though the exhibit would seem to be catered toward journalists, photographers, and art majors, this is not so.
“It tells the story of things that have been forgotten,” VandeBurgt states.
Not only is it an impressive timeline of a magnificent man, it serves as a little history lesson and reminder that these events did not happen long ago.
“It opened the opportunity for students and professors to teach not only history, but what photojournalism was and maybe what it should be now,” VandeBurgt declared.
Sadly, not many students are aware of the archive and collections available to them. In just October, only three students out of the thirteen-thousand that go to FGCU were accounted for on the sign in sheet to the archive.
Sophomore student, Nina Miroshnichenko plans to check out Charles Ray’s “The Story Behind The Story” very soon.
As a student in the infamous Visual and Performing Arts class, she in learning the processes and techniques that artists use when creating a piece. “I am interested in checking out the archive because most people think of art as exclusively a sculpture or paint on canvas,” Miroshnichenko said.
Miroshnichenko took note that art is more than just the materials the artist uses. It has to come from the heart as well. Charles Ray did not treat his coverage of news as a job but as a masterpiece, hoping it would relay meaning and passion.
Melissa VandeBurgt has already planned what is to come and is very excited to continue sharing beautiful collections. Come check out “The Story Behind The Story” before it is gone!