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The Visual Narrative: Book Arts and Photography

September 23 – December 14, 2014

The Visual NarrativeArtists have incorporated photographs into book arts since the late 1960s and continue to use evolving forms of this medium in their work.  This exhibition represents artists’ books covering the last forty-five years that construct visual stories through the use of photography and/or photography combined with text.  These visual narratives tell stories about the world.  They comment on events, people, and issues on both a global and personal front, dealing with topics such as post-colonial identity, ecological concerns, autobiography, women’s history, and social justice, among others.

Photography is a unique story-telling medium in that it is relatively new yet constantly changing and improving.  Additionally, cameras and photography equipment are available to the masses, allowing anyone to participate in creating photos.  Because there are so many available processes to take photos and print them, this exhibit attempts to highlight as many as possible, ranging from cyanotypes to digital prints.

Photography can tell a visual story in ways painting or drawing never could, and depending on the process used, it can look as realistic or manipulated as the artist wants.  Older and more “alternative” processes have been professionally abandoned in favor of newer and cheaper technology, which paved the way for creative appropriation of those older processes.  Polaroids were heralded as taking the first real instant photo, but are now too slow and expensive to satisfy our need for immediate gratification in the same way that Instagram does.  We have become so bombarded with images in our everyday lives that it takes a truly interesting photo and perhaps a compelling visual narrative to hold our gaze and capture our imagination.

This exhibition is mounted in conjunction with the 2014 Society for Photographic Education/Midwest Region Conference, “Yesterday Today: Photography and the Archive,” to be held in Madison, WI from October 16-17, 2014.

Co-curated by Stephanie Lifshutz, Art Department graduate student, and Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library.

Image: Colin Finlay.  12° N x 23° E, 64° S x 60° E.  [S.l.] : Definitive Stories, 2007.