Date(s) - 01/21/2014
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Berman Museum, Ursinus College
“figure in misty luminous landscape,” by Brian Peterson, 1993.
Only Connect: A Conversation About Image and Word
Photographs and Texts by Brian H. Peterson
Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art
Jan. 21 through March 9 – Upper Gallery
Opening reception: Jan. 30, 4 to 7 p.m.
COLLEGEVILLE, PA. — “Only connect,” says the English writer E. M. Forster in his novel Howards End. Forster’s insight into the need for connection in our lives is also a directional beacon for a view of art expressed by the American photographer and teacher Minor White: “The most valuable part of my photographs is what they bring me about the people who respond to them.”
In this unusual exhibition, Philadelphia photographer Brian H. Peterson has selected a smorgasbord of pictures and prose that explores his spiritual life and the art and practice of photography. He is inspired by Forster’s insight into the need for connection in our lives.
A critically acclaimed author, Peterson has chosen excerpts from his two published memoirs, The Smile at the Heart of Things (2009) and The Blossoming of the World (2011), to create an exhibition that explores the connections between word and image in his own work. At times, Peterson will be at the Museum to “only connect” with museum visitors.
In addition to being an artist, curator, critic, and arts administrator in the Philadelphia area for more than three decades, Peterson has had more than 30 solo exhibitions of his photographs since 1980. His work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum, the Library of Congress, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Denver Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Dayton Art Institute, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Danforth Museum of Art, and the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Peterson discusses his photographs using written statements that offer a window into the creative process. His Earth Music series (1993-1997) started with a simple fascination with the “outside” of things, “particularly how complex, textured surfaces can be rendered with such exquisite beauty through the precise alchemy of the lens.” The from . . . to series (1993/94)began with a playful desire to move in the opposite direction—to break free from the constraints of the pristine photographic print and find out if anything would emerge from a more spontaneous way of working, he writes.
Of The Interior Light series, 2003-2004, he says that “making photographs, for me, has usually involved packing up my stuff and going places: Montana, Arizona, a local park, or maybe somebody’s home to do a portrait. It never occurred to me that there were pictures to be found inside my house as well as outside.” He describes how he started to record moments as the mood struck, and describes each photo made inside his house as a “small celebration of the magic and mystery of light.”
The Fire Music Series (2004) began with the idea of a tiny piece of flickering flame recorded by a camera in front of the fireplace, first turning the fire into pixels. Eventually, he writes, “Line became rhythm, and rhythm became movement.” Gradually, he adds, he realized that his love of music and love of photography were not so different.
Peterson worked as a curator from 1990 to 2013 at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Bucks County, Pa., where he organized numerous historical and contemporary exhibitions. He was the editor and principal author of the 2002 publication Pennsylvania Impressionism (copublished by the Michener and the University of Pennsylvania Press), and his recent exhibitions include The Painterly Voice: Bucks County’s Fertile Ground (2011-12) and Making Magic: Beauty in Word and image (2012). His memoir The Smile at the Heart of Things: Essays and Life Stories (2009), was copublished by the Michener and Tell Me Press, New Haven, Conn.
He was a member of the Museums Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003, and has served on the Visual Arts Advisory Panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He received two Fellowships for Visual Arts Criticism from the PA Council on the Arts, and his critical writing has appeared in several newspapers and journals. He has taught photography at the University of Delaware, the Tyler School of Art, and Swarthmore College. He received an MFA from the University of Delaware (1985), and a BA in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania (1981).
More information can be found at www.brianhpetersonwordimage.com.
The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and College holidays. The Museum is accessible to visitors with disabilities. Admission is always free. Exhibitions and programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Of the over 12,000 museums in the United States, the Berman Museum of Art is one of only 781 museums that is accredited by the American Association of Museums.