Elephant Ear Photographs Open 2010 Exhibits at SJU Gallery

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 6, 2010) – Elephant ears – the garden variety – are tropical plants popular in many climes because of their lush and large heart-shaped leaves resembling the ears of pachyderms. Saint Joseph’s University Gallery will exhibit Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) photographer Lynn Rosenthal’s collection of archival pigment prints of the “ears” grown in her garden, Jan.19 through Feb. 12. An artist’s reception is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 29, 6-8 p.m.

“Elephant Ear Series” is an ongoing project Rosenthal began in 2005. “In this body of work, I am exploring themes of fertility, aging and life and death in the cycles of these plants,” she says. Rosenthal witnessed the life cycle of her Colocasia esculenta plants – the taxonomic name of the most widely known variety – over several seasons. “They grow from corms, and can spread to three feet in length. After dying off in the fall, the corms are dug up and over-wintered to be nurtured again in the spring,” she says.

The images are composed within the camera in available light without manipulation, Rosenthal says.  She then scans the 35 mm transparency film to create “tactile, inkjet prints. The images investigate color and film and its availability to translate color into a printed photograph,” she adds.

Rosenthal says her work combines traditions of still life formal investigation, referencing artists such as Irving Penn, Imogen Cunningham and Albert Renger-Patzsch, among others. “The abstract studies put the sensual, even erotic qualities of form, variegated color and light into tension with the ‘objective’ frame of straight photography,” she notes.

Associate gallery director Jeanne Bracy says that Rosenthal’s technique forces the viewer to appreciate the details and physicality of the plant forms. “Her saturated greens mimic youth’s taut beauty while the cool blue hues hint at age and decay; the high contrast makes for dramatic pieces.”

As the photographer for PMA, Rosenthal handles all aspects of museum photography, including art collections, books, brochures and curatorial lectures. She studied photography at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Mo., and has exhibited in juried shows from Oregon to Pennsylvania.

The Saint Joseph's University Gallery is located in Boland Hall on Lapsley Lane, off of City Avenue, between 54th Street & Cardinal Avenue in Lower Merion. A campus map may be accessed at http://www.sju.edu/about/campusmap/.

Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information, call 610-660-1840, or access http://www.sju.edu/gallery.

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240, patricia.allen@sju.edu

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