Bringing the world into focus

Several pictures in the Grossman Gallery exhibit “FOCUS II.” [ Photo by Julia Brennan ‘16]

Grossman Gallery hosts evocative and surreal exhibition

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Grossman Gallery of the Williams Visual Arts Center could be a dictionary.

The “FOCUS II: Photographs from the College Art Collection” exhibition is the collection of vintage and contemporary photographs owned by Lafayette College.

“Focus II is a companion exhibition to the Williams Center exhibition, ‘Past/Present/Future,’ which is a selection of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper, also from the college’s art collection,” said Director of Lafayette Art Galleries and Art Collections Michiko Okaya.

Professors Karina Skvirsky and Greta Brubaker, who teach photography courses here at Lafayette, selected the photographs for “FOCUS II.”

“[This gallery] is incredibly diverse,” Professor Skvirky said. In addition to the contemporary works, she added, “it also has some of the major photographic players’ works in the history of photography,” such as Eugene Atget and Harry Callahan.

Professors Skvirky and Brubaker chose the photographs for this exhibition to showcase Lafayette College’s diverse collection. One of the highlights of the collection is “Postmark” by Debbie Grossman, a surreal piece where Grossman uses Photoshop to turn letters her mother wrote when she was alive into a farewell letter from beyond the grave. There are photos which range from the “very contemporary to conceptually oriented photos, like Debbie Grossman’s letter from her dead mother, to the Eddie Adams seminal journalistic photo, ‘Saigon Execution,’” Skvirky said.

“Saigon Execution” is a Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a South Vietnamese general executing a Vietcong operative during the Vietnam War. The Associated Press considers it to be one of the most influential photographs ever taken.

There are also more evocative photo series, such as the collection by Donna Ferrato about domestic violence, where “one can appreciate both the importance of raising consciousness about the issue and how a photographer gains trust and access to a community,” Skvirky said.

The “FOCUS II” exhibition will be running through Oct. 24.

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