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University gallery exhibiting gems from Fitchburg Art Museum

Posted 03/14/16

Georgia O’Keeffe, 1981, by William CliftThe Sanders Administration Building at Fitchburg State University has become an extension of the Fitchburg Art Museum, with a remarkable sample of the museum’s photography collection on display through the rest of the academic year.

These gems from the museum’s photography collection include work produced in America since the end of World War II by artists who made photography a major creative force in the late 20th century. The exhibition focuses mainly on New England photographers and teachers.

The university has used the Sanders corridor at 300 Highland Ave. as an auxiliary gallery space for the past several years, complementing exhibition space in Hammond Hall at 160 Pearl St. and the media wall in Conlon Hall at 316 Highland Ave. Following an agreement signed last year between campus and museum leaders, the museum has curated the Sanders gallery space with items from its own vaunted collection of photography.

“These treasures enrich the campus and provide our students, faculty, staff and visitors with a meaningful cultural experience,” Fitchburg State President Richard S. Lapidus said. “We are grateful to the museum and its curators for sharing these assets with our campus community. The installation underscores the rich collaboration our institutions are enjoying.”

Matterhorn in Winter Storm, 1958, by Bradford Washburn“The memorandum of agreement signed last year pledged to directly benefit Fitchburg State students and FAM audiences, as well as communities in the city of Fitchburg and North Central Massachusetts,” said Fitchburg Art Museum Executive Director Nick Capasso. “This exhibition is a manifestation of that agreement.”

The institutional partnership includes free admission to the FAM for all Fitchburg State students, faculty and staff. In addition, a document design class in the university’s Communications Media Department is continuing a recent tradition by designing and producing materials for the museum’s major exhibits. The collateral is produced by the class to the museum’s specifications, with the final products put into use. The project gives students real-world experience and portfolio pieces while providing the museum with professional quality work.

About the Exhibition

Penta-Ifan Dolmen, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1972 by Paul CaponigroPhotographers include Paul Caponigro, Robert Fay, B. A. King, Christopher James, Jane Tuckerman, and Bradford Washburn.  Photographer-teachers include Peter Laytin (Fitchburg State University), his teacher Minor White (MIT), Stephen DiRado (Clark University), Harold Edgerton (MIT), Carl Chiarenza (formerly at BU, now retired from RIT), Arno Minkkinen (Lowell State University), Chester Michalik (retired from Smith College), and Aaron Siskind (RISD).

A wide variety of subjects appear in this exhibition.  Viewers can compare man-made and natural rock formations in Caponigro’s Stonehenge pictures, William Clift’s Southwest landscapes, Siskind’s studies of pervasive New England stone walls, and Bradford Washburn’s aerial views.  Carl Chiarenza offers abstractions.  Arno Minkkinen puts himself in his conceptual photographs.  Minor White offers a mystical view of the world.  “Doc” Edgerton, White’s post-World War II contemporary, utilized photography and physics to capture the unseen—like speeding bullets.  Christopher James, Jane Tuckerman, and Stephen DiRado opened their personal worlds to viewers.

The FAM photography collection developed as an outgrowth of the Museum’s exhibition program.  Generous donors gave impetus to the Museum’s collecting activity.  Numerous photographs in this exhibition are from the Jude Peterson Collection. Jude Peterson was a Massachusetts collector who helped sustain FAM’s photography program from the late 1990s to his untimely death in 2009.

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