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Alumna explores bodies with photography, art


By Lindsey Landis




A little girl raises her shirt to show a feeding tube protruding from her stomach. A nude woman embraces a tree and reconnects with nature. A single mother poses with her two young children. Twelve of alumna Yara Cluver's stirring portraits are displayed in the Rosemary P. Miller Gallery at the John Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut St., until Saturday. \n"The title of the exhibition and the concept that I am working with is the idea of 'Bonds,' that we're connected to things ... and the different kinds of relationships we have," Cluver said.\nCluver is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at IU's Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts. She has been taking photographs for the past 20 years, and she now serves as the assistant director and arts council coordinator at Collins Living-Learning Center.\nCluver grew up in Bloomington and went away to New York City to begin her undergraduate work at Cooper Union School of Art. Her original intention was to major in screen printing, but she discovered her love and talent for photography in an art foundations class. She dropped out of school, moved to Los Angeles to focus on her photography and also spent some time in Brazil, her mother's homeland.\nShe completed her undergraduate work at IU in the Individualized Major Program. She combined photography, sociology and women's studies in an ambitious project.\n"I was really interested in how I could depict the female nude in a way that would empower women as opposed to objectifying them," Cluver said.\nShe has displayed this exhibit in the past and even given lectures regarding her work. She has not yet given the lecture at IU but is considering the possibility. Each of her exhibitions ranging from controversial female nudes to vibrant landscapes and portraiture are dramatically different and display her remarkable versatility and genius.\nSenior and president of Collins Arts Council Margaret Miley works with Cluver on the council. She describes her work as "cerebral."\n"There's a lot to it," Miley said. "It's the kind of photography you have to stand back and really look at."\nNot only does Miley admire Cluver's work, but she also looks up to her as a mentor and go-to person.\n"She is like the yogi of Arts Council. She is the all-knowing being that we turn to, versus a dictator," she said. "She offers help when we ask for it, and she hasn't turned into the stereotypical old woman." \nCluver is responsible for applications for admission, publications, programming and administration at Collins. Collins director Ellen Dwyer said that she is enthusiastic, accessible, organized and conscientious. \n"I often have to say 'Please let me know if I can help with anything,'" she said.\nDwyer said that Cluver is service learning-oriented and has organized several events throughout the years. She began a bookmaking program at one of the low-income elementary schools in the community. The children create their own storybooks and then show them at a reception at IU and at Monroe County Public Library. \n"The second and third grade students are so excited that their books are on display at IU," Dwyer said. "That is the kind of service learning we are supposed to be doing."\nCluver's photography and her work at Collins has amazed the people she works with every day. Dwyer said that she plans on purchasing one of Cluver's Brazilian photographs for its beautiful colors. Miley said that she has taught her how to be organized and responsible but still have a sense of individuality and personality.\n"She inspires people," Dwyer said. "She helps them develop as leaders and as artists"

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