The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Oct 09, 2013

Two exciting art of photography lectures coming to the Akron Art Museum

Posted by rdurbin

Akron Art Museum, a Knight Arts grantee, has a free lecture series on Thursday evenings (including the ones given during the summer when the Downtown at Dusk music series is underway), the same day of the week that the galleries have extended hours and admission is equally free. Viewers can get a "two-fer" out of the deal, and it’s an opportunity well worth the taking.

The museum is particularly well known for its photography collection, and that’s the focus of two upcoming lectures this month. Noted contemporary photographic artists Alison Rossiter and Chris Verene will be talking about their work (Rossiter on her unique method and Verene on his subject matter) on October 10 and 17 respectively.

Ready for this: Alison Rossiter makes photographs without a camera. How about that? I can barely take a good one with a camera.

She merges traditional methods with experimental techniques, according to museum officials. Basically she collects old expired photographic paper, runs the pieces though her darkroom, and through a laborious process, produces subtle, abstract compositions that seem very abstract expressionist when she’s done.

Alison Rossiter, Lament, expired papers (1941, 2008). Photo from

Her titles for her work are mostly descriptive, telling the expiration of the paper if she knows it (the expiration dates go back as far as 1900), the kind of paper it was, who made it, and when she reworked it in her darkroom. Strangely and interestingly she took up work with obsolescent technology just when others were going digital and using the latest things out.

She coaxes the images out of the paper as she reduces the medium to its basic components, museum folks say, and sometimes draws on the paper with flashlights to give some eerie looking design and texture to the photographs she produces. Some of her work is on display at the museum now in the exhibit “With a Trace: Photographs of Absence.”

Alison Rossiter, Quadriptychs (1960s, 2013). Photo from Alison Rossiter, Quadriptychs (1960s, 2013). Photo from

The October 17 lecture will be given by Chris Verene. He is widely known for his multi-decade documentary project chronicling the lives of his family and friends in Galesburg, Illinois, according to the museum and The University of Akron, both of whom are sponsoring this event.

Verene goes after a slice of America that would never be seen, focusing on his family and the small town of Galesburg, Ill. He creates intense color photographs, accompanied by handwritten text, that are candid shots of people – not always at their best and finest, but charming in the realness of them.

Chris Verene, "Crystal at Eighteen." Photo from Chris Verene, "Crystal at Eighteen." Photo from

Verene’s presentation at the museum, according to officials, will focus on the community of Galesburg and how the people there, simply doing what they do and being who they are, serve as his inspiration.

Chris Verene, "Rosie and her New Cat, Mae Rose." Photo from Chris Verene, "Rosie and her New Cat, Mae Rose." Photo from

Lectures on photography by Alison Rossiter and Chris Verene will be given at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 10 and October 17 respectively at the Akron Art Museum, 1 South High St., Akron; 330-387-9185; Admission is free (advance registration is required).

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