The Age of Consequences — Photographs at SJU Gallery
Friday, October 18, 2013
PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 17, 2013) — Matthew Christopher says he set out to chronicle the ruins of the American architectural scene by photographing abandoned churches, schools, theaters, hospitals, prisons, and resorts, because “the empty buildings offer a mute testimonial to our country’s past.” An exhibit of digital photographs from his journey into that past, “The Age of Consequences,” will be on display in the Saint Joseph’s University Gallery Nov. 15-Dec. 10. An artist’s reception is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21, 5-7 p.m.
Christopher’s travels have taken him across the United States, where he has photographed sites from Massachusetts to Arizona. Considered a leading expert on urban blight and the movement to preserve the country’s endangered architectural history, his work has earned international attention.
“I’ve entered abandoned structures since I was a child, fascinated by the fragments of people’s lives left behind,” Christopher says. He began documenting his experiences ten years ago while researching the decline of the Pennsylvania state mental hospital system.
“Through photography, I have endeavored to preserve the ethereal grace and stillness in these derelict environments, and to give a sense of the awe-inspiring beauty and profound sorrow that persists when only echoes remain,” Christopher says.
“‘The Age of Consequences’ focuses on the state of our communities, our country and the changing economy and workforce,” says Associate Gallery Director Jeanne Bracy. “While Christopher places the camera precisely and the lighting is captured in a way that allows for detail and dark corners of contemplation, the work goes beyond simply recording the beautiful architecture of crumbling spaces.”
Bracy adds that viewers of the photos are invited to “read between the rubble and understand Christopher's ultimate statement of identity and transformation.”
Christopher earned an M.F.A. in imaging arts and sciences from the Rochester Institute of Technology. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the East Coast, and has been published in Photographer’s Forum, the International Journal of Arts and Humanities and the United Nation’s UN Chronicle. He has lectured on abandoned spaces and mental health history for organizations such as the Pennsylvania State Museum, Preservation Pennsylvania and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Saint Joseph’s University Gallery is located in Merion Hall on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus at 355 N. Latches Lane in Merion Station, Pa. A campus map may be viewed online. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information, call 610-660-1840, or visit the gallery website at www.sju.edu/gallery.