The magical work of beekeepers. The flamboyant artistry of a group of drag queens. The quiet complexity of life in a small Western mountain town. These are just some of the stories conveyed in the BU Photographic Resource Center’s annual juried exhibition, now in its 18th year. Titled Exposure 2013, the show features the work of eight emerging artists.
More than 200 up-and-coming photographers from North America and beyond submitted portfolios for consideration. The hard work of narrowing those 200 down to a handful fell to Karen E. Haas (GRS’89), the Lane Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, this year’s juror.
“My goal was to select those artists whose photographs I found myself replaying over and over in my mind, but also to choose pieces that best represented the range of work submitted and made for an interesting exhibition,” Haas writes in her juror’s statement. “I was especially attracted to pictures that blurred the boundaries of traditional genres and drawn to innovative still lifes, typologies, and portraiture, as well as images of gardens and landscapes that suggest our increasingly precarious relationship to the natural world.”
The photographs in Exposure 2013 ingrain themselves in the viewer’s mind, sparking reflection and a sense of wonder. And despite the varied subject matter, there is a common thread that unites the images: a sense of life’s resiliency. As it’s captured here, life may be flawed, but it functions.
Consider Bryan Schutmaat’s series Grays the Mountain Sends, which won Best of Show. The title encapsulates the bleak tone conveyed in his photographs of working people living in the small, decrepit mining towns of the American West. The face of the bearded man in the portrait Ralph, Moorecroft, Wyoming offers a haunting window into the life of a miner. It is a simple portrait, but the man’s eyes hint at a more complex story—perhaps one of struggle or of dashed dreams. As captured by Schutmaat, the miner appears tired, yet tough.
William Rugen’s series New Botanicals is both an ode to, and a modern graphic updating of, the genre of botanical prints popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries. His images, a blend of art and biology, do not focus only on the elegance of the visible plant. By accentuating the plants’ not-so-elegant roots, Rugen says, he is attempting to remind viewers “that everything of beauty or value requires a certain amount of ‘ugliness’ to come to fruition.”
His words could easily describe the exhibition as a whole.
Exposure 2013 is on view at the BU Photographic Resource Center, 832 Commonwealth Ave., through Saturday, July 27. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. It is closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is free for BU students. The suggested donation is $3.
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