A Conversation with Alli Royce Soble and Jon Arge

Atlanta photographers and artists Alli Royce Soble and Jon Arge discuss the library’s online exhibition “Our Archive Could Be Your Life,” which features their work. The exhibit highlights how the unique and joyful photographic record of Queer Atlanta they created in the 1990s.
To view the "Our Archive Could Be Your Life" exhibition, please click here

Jon Arge
Born a Taurus during the Age of Aquarius in Venice, Florida, Jon Arge showed promise in nothing other than reckless self-expression from the start. He moved on at an early age from wall based, large-scale abstract murals in lipstick to smaller, more concise renderings in ink on paper. After attending the Savannah College of Art & Design, he relocated to Atlanta, where he dabbled eagerly in nonsense and art for more than a decade. His work is driven by love and inspiration comprised of people, obsessions, or situations. To be successful, he believes each piece of his art must reflect the shining light and energy of its subject. Having exhibited throughout the South, he was one of eleven artists chosen for the 2001 Atlanta Biennial. Collected worldwide, he has established a committed following of commercial and private clients, with corporate commissions including IBM, Coca-Cola, and Turner Broadcasting System. In 2017, his archives, including all photographs, personal papers, original drawings, and artwork masters, were acquired by Emory University for the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. He currently resides in every single one of his pieces.

Alli Royce Soble
The desire and passion to create started very early for me. I never played with dolls as a child. I preferred to draw or doodle. My parents gave me a Kodak DISC camera when I was ten years old. I took pictures of everything and everyone. I was just having fun, but looking back now, I had already started to document my life. This need to document drives me. My photographs record my world—Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ community, the art community, and political activism in the city. I experience moments in my life more deeply with my camera in hand, as I sit and wait for the perfect moment to take a shot. My drive to document goes beyond the visual. I have also traced my life through a series of journals. I started writing in 1982 in a Garfield diary I received for my 8th birthday. There is significant overlap in the friends, associates, and events represented in the photos and journal. The camera and writing have been ways to mark the joyous celebrations and ways to cope with difficult moments. 

I will never stop taking photographs.
It is who I am.
A Documentarian.
A Photographer.
Capturing my history,
which is now Our History.
You can explore the finding aid for the Jon Arge photographs here and the finding aid for the Alli Royce Soble papers here.