Alumna Painter and Local Photographer Show Work at Berman Museum

January 3, 2014

Two new exhibitions will open this month at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art. Only Connect: A Conversation About Image and Word, Photographs and Texts by Brian H. Peterson will open Jan. 21 in the Upper Gallery and runs through March 9. Barbara J. Zucker: 40 Years of Painting: A Visual Journal opens Jan. 27 in the Main Gallery and runs through March 23. Opening receptions for each artist’s exhibition will be held Jan. 30 from 4 to 7 p.m.

Only Connect: A Conversation About Image and Word, Photographs and Texts by Brian H. Peterson

“Only connect,” says the English writer E. M. Forster in his novel Howards End. In this unusual exhibition, Philadelphia photographer Brian H. Peterson has selected a smorgasbord of pictures and prose that explores his spiritual life and the art and practice of photography. He is inspired by Forster’s insight into the need for connection in our lives.

A critically acclaimed author, Peterson has chosen excerpts from his two published memoirs, The Smile at the Heart of Things (2009) and The Blossoming of the World (2011), to create an exhibition that explores the connections between word and image in his own work. Periodically, Peterson will be at the Museum to “only connect” with museum visitors.

In addition to being an artist, curator, critic, and arts administrator in the Philadelphia area for more than three decades, Peterson has had more than 30 solo exhibitions of his photographs since 1980. His work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum, the Library of Congress, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Denver Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Dayton Art Institute, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Danforth Museum of Art, and the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Peterson discusses his photographs using written statements that offer a window into the creative process. His Earth Music series (1993-1997) started with a simple fascination with the “outside” of things, “particularly how complex, textured surfaces can be rendered with such exquisite beauty through the precise alchemy of the lens.” The from . . . to series (1993-1994) began with a playful desire to move in the opposite direction—to break free from the constraints of the pristine photographic print and find out if anything would emerge from a more spontaneous way of working, he writes.

Of the Interior Light series (2003-2004), he says that “making photographs, for me, has usually involved packing up my stuff and going places: Montana, Arizona, a local park, or maybe somebody’s home to do a portrait. It never occurred to me that there were pictures to be found inside my house as well as outside.” The Fire Music series (2004) began with the idea of a tiny piece of flickering flame recorded by a camera in front of the fireplace, first turning the fire into pixels.

Peterson worked as a curator from 1990 to 2013 at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Bucks County, Pa., and was the editor and principal author of the 2002 publication Pennsylvania Impressionism (co-published by the Michener and the University of Pennsylvania Press). His memoir The Smile at the Heart of Things: Essays and Life Stories (2009) was co-published by the Michener and Tell Me Press, New Haven, Conn. He was a member of the Museums Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, and has served on the Visual Arts Advisory Panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He received two Fellowships for Visual Arts Criticism from the PA Council on the Arts, and his critical writing has appeared in several newspapers and journals. He has taught photography at the University of Delaware, the Tyler School of Art, and Swarthmore College. He received an MFA from the University of Delaware and a BA in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania.

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