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Viewing the Visual Arts: Snapshots

A five-part series on the year’s memorable exhibitions

Click on the slide show above to see images from the exhibition.

Point, line, form, shape, movement, color, pattern, and texture are the fundamental elements of visual design. At art’s deeper levels lie creativity, freedom, expression, and emotion. Six galleries around Boston University’s campus, from the independent nonprofit Photographic Resource Center to the 808 Gallery, provide at least one more element of design for students and visiting visual artists: exhibition space.

This week’s series remembers five of the visual arts exhibitions from around campus in 2006 and 2007, ranging from a graphic look at Hispanic stereotypes in American culture to an exploration of the myths and mysteries of Soviet labor camps. Click here to see “You People: A Graphic Look at Hispanic Stereotypes.” Click here to see “Printmaking, Past and Present.” Click here to see “You People: A Graphic Look at Hispanic Stereotypes.” Click here to see “Printmaking, Past and Present.” Click here to see “Campus Art, Campus Life.” Click here to see “Out of the Shadows, the Gulag.”

Snapshots
Photographic Resource Center turns 30 and looks ahead in new exhibition

By Meghan Noé

Photographers 30 years ago could hardly have imagined that one day they would be able to edit and manipulate images with ease and share their work around the world in an instant. The Photographic Resource Center’s 30th anniversary exhibition, titled PRC/POV: Photography Now and the Next 30 Years, served as a snapshot of photography today and of the seemingly limitless possibilities the next 30 years may bring.

“On this anniversary of the Photographic Resource Center’s founding, we felt strongly that we needed to look forward to the future and not just to the past,” said Leslie Brown, PRC curator. “Our current mission is devoted to emerging ideas and trends, and by asking people from our present and our past to look to the future, we felt that it hit all the right notes.”

For the exhibition, conceived as one generation of photographers shaking the hand of another, the PRC asked current and former staff, board members, and photographers to nominate emerging artists, scholars, organizations, and publications that are garnering attention in the world of photography.

Several trends surfaced among the up-and-coming photographers, said Brown, one of the most prominent being that photography itself has gone back to the basics.

“A lot of work addresses or uses chemical photography’s basic characteristics. There are several pieces in the show that use paper negatives, an older process, yet put a modern spin on it,” Brown said. “Also, artists have begun to rediscover historical processes as well as make work that addresses the idea of the photographic process, which includes focus, depth of field, optics, the chemical darkroom, and film itself.”

Also emerging were new twists on documentary work, an increased focus on portraiture and a new consideration for what defines a portrait, more installation and sculptural work, an influx of video and new media using photography, a renewed commitment to conceptually-based work, and artists banding together and forming working collectives.

The Internet has transformed the way photographers publicize their work, giving them an alternative to the gallery. “I would say that the Internet does not necessarily affect the kind of work photographers do,” said Brown, “it just allows them to share it very quickly and allows them to see work by other people from anywhere.”

The PRC/POV: Photography Now and the Next 30 Years opened in November and ran through January. The PRC is located at 832 Commonwealth Ave. For information on hours or directions, call 617-975-0600 or visit www.prcboston.org.

Meghan Noe can be reached at mdorney@bu.edu.

“Snapshots” originally appeared on BU Today in November 2006.