Photography and poetry come together for a singular experience at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG), when two life-long friends put their work on display in the exhibit “Pequeña Hoguera – Blaze,” Oct. 22 through Nov. 12.

An opening reception and artist talk, via Skype, will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. at JKCG, located in MCCC’s Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street in Trenton, across the street from the James Kerney Building. The event is free and open to the public.

“Verónica Sanchis Bencomo and Cristina Gálvez Martos met in the fourth grade a little over twenty years ago,” said Michael Chovan-Dalton, JKCG Gallery Director. “As their adult lives took different paths to different places – Verónica went on to study photography and Cristina studied literature – they began to correspond with each other through the mail by sending each other their work.”

Dalton explains that while Bencomo was creating photographs during her travels throughout the United Kingdom, New York, and Hong Kong, Martos was writing poetry in Caracas, Parque del Plata, and Montevideo. And even though they were separated by thousands of miles, a connection persisted.

“What they were sending to each other revealed similar experiences and a translation of their lives that seems rooted in their shared identity and friendship,” Chovan-Dalton said.

“Pequeña Hoguera – Blaze” refers to a transmutation process and is designed to be a dialogue of sensibilities, according to Bencomo and Martos. Martos composed her poems over a period of time, while Bencomo’s photos where conceived together, with the union of the two art forms giving rise to an understanding of their respective works.

“It would be a lie to say we made a great effort to shape this encounter of photographs and poems; the relationship between each other was already present almost tacitly,” Bencomo said. “We just had to readjust a little, make some choices, discard, include, polish. Once again, our dialogue had a life of its own.”

The title of the exhibit, with its reference to fire, is designed to evoke images of first a tiny spark, which can grow to a flame, Martos said. She goes on to explain that the embodiment of this concept in an artistic form – which melds two distinct genres – is designed to mirror our personal perceptions, and reflects the blurring of lines between the spiritual and the physical.

“There is a breath, a spark that keeps us growing, that moves us continuously,” Martos said. “Even in the coldest periods, small flames feed the inner life. From there arise our images, which find each other in a natural, spontaneous way.”

General JKCG hours are Monday and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. or by appointment at jkcgallery@mccc.edu. Information about this show, JKCG, and other upcoming shows is available on the JKCG website at www.mccc.edu/jkcgallery.