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Photographs Are Ideas, Selections from the LUAG Teaching Museum Collection.

|   Gallery Blog
Left: Jeanine Michna-Bales, Decision to Leave, Magnolia Plantation on the Cane River, Louisiana, 2013/2017, Digital Chromogenic Print, 2/9 Right: José Antonio Navarrete, Untitled #11, Shirt, Hostal María Inés, Cuenca, 2013, Archival Fine Art Print, 2/3

Selections from the LUAG Teaching Museum Collection.


Photography has been a lifelong passion for LUAG Director and Chief Curator Ricardo Viera. When Viera first came to Lehigh University in 1974, his priority was to establish professional standards for the art works he found.  To his dismay, he discovered—among the many paintings, prints, and coins which made up the fine art collection—there was only onephotograph.  With this discovery his first IDEA was born: to build a teaching collection centered around works-on-paper, including photography.

Viera found that photographs and prints were practical to collect for a number of reasons. Financially, they were within reach, and they allowed him to make the most economical use of limited storage space.  The first images that Viera added to the collection were from an incomplete portfolio by William Rau (1855-1920), Lehigh Valley Railroad Photographs 1895-1899, transferred from Linderman Library.  Immediately after that, LUAG received a gift of photographs from Lehigh alumnus Lou Stoumen ’39 (1917-1991), a photographer and academy-award winning filmmaker who encouraged the LUAG staff, and advised Viera in building the collection.  It was an opportune time in the photography market, and LUAG was able to exchange and trade images, especially 19th and 20th century works, which became the foundation of the teaching collection. Now, in 2018, the collection—which represents photography as a whole since 1839—provides a window through which viewers can marvel at multiple acts of magic, from photography’s scientific roots to its artistic soul, as well as its many humanistic achievements.

According to Viera, “Today—as we see in the various works of individual artists, from single-plate processes, through analog, conceptual, and photo-based approaches—light and shadow continue to play a mysterious role in the theatrics of digitalization and the photoshop of IDEAS.  Keep in mind that an IDEA is not just a cognitive or conceptual action.  An IDEA could be searching and looking through the lens of a camera, or simply photographing an object as an IDEA of the subject.  An IDEA could be a visual metaphor, a descriptive narrative, a lie, or the act of mismatching a pair as a parallel to discovery.  In short, good photography is good theater.  That’s the IDEA.”

This curator’s choice exhibition includes works from the LUAG Teaching Museum photography collection by Robert Heinecken, Chema Madoz, Jerry Uelsmann, Liliana Porter, Lou Stoumen, Graciela Iturbide, Mike Disfarmer, Duane Michals, and many more.

FEB 8    Join us for a reception to celebrate the launch of the 2018 Spring Exhibitions, LUAG Main Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center, 6-8PM.  Free and open to the public.  Refreshments.