Photography student to be featured in public art reception

Jessica Kovacs, a student of photography at WCU, will have her first solo show, “Rural Destinations” installed at City Lights Café of Sylva. The artist reception is Friday, Feb. 8 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., during which anyone is welcome to meet the artist and see her work while enjoying complimentary appetizers.

Jessica Kovacs installs her show at City Lights.
Photo by Kimberly Fansler.

When I first met Kovacs, she seemed, at first, a shy and determined girl behind the viewfinder of her camera. Her plaid flannel and short, wavy pixie-esque hair revealed her more laid back side. Then as she began to talk, her modesty turned bubbly and colorful.

Kovacs’ digital photography is just as colorful as her character. Her work suits her because it unveils her true, vibrant personality.

“I see the outstanding color and quirky coordination. I like the irony in the photograph or any unexpected element that many would not look at twice,” Kovacs said with a smile and her eyes looking off elsewhere.

“Rural Destinations” signifies the big move Kovacs made from her hometown, Raleigh, to pursue photography at Western Carolina University, along with the aspect of traveling from place to place.

In 2010, after a harsh critique from a visiting artist, Mike Smith, and a rejection from the WCU student show, Kovacs put down her camera for about nine months. She lost her motivation and her drive to snap the shutter.

Kovacs rekindled her passion while teaching others about spotting color and photographing polychromatic scenes. Her unique perspective in a scene is evident in her appreciation for light and how colors react with each other through the viewfinder.

“In my photograph, I can force them (the audience) into this frame, matted image, and looking up close at these details that they miss everyday,” Kovacs said of her style.

Kovacs takes pictures of everyday scenes and highlights those items or colors that the public tends to overlook. Her exhibition supports the unexpected component that makes the photo unique.

Kovacs’ favorite photo in the show is “Post-Strike at the Santa Maria Novella Train Station” which she took in Florence, Italy. The people on the ends, whom she hadn’t seen while taking it, hold the photograph together. Kovacs likes how the photo came together with the people surrounding and the lines of the windows pointing right at the subjects in the center of the photo. Without these elements and sentiment, she feels that the photo would not have been as good.

With her persistence in snapping pictures and her keen, colorful eye, Kovacs has found her passion for creating art and, through her images, sharing not only the colors she sees but also her quirky persona.

To see the rest of the installation and meet the artist in person, be at City Lights Café in Sylva on Friday, Feb. 8 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. “Rural Destinations” will be up until the beginning of March.

Kimberly Fansler is the curator of the City Lights Gallery. Artists interested in showing their work can email her at