Endangered Art: Faded, Cracked and Torn

Johanna Inman photography exhibit opens November 5 at University Gallery

Friday, October 19, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (October 19, 2007) - Images from and of the past are featured in the next professional gallery exhibit at Saint Joseph's University. Award-winning photographer Johanna Inman's Faded, Cracked and Torn, a collection of 16 photographs of antique lantern slides and old, disregarded books and postcards will be on display Nov. 5 – Dec. 10, 2007. A reception for the artist will be held Friday, Nov. 9, 6 – 8 p.m.

"My interest in the lantern slide is twofold: as a historical document and as an aesthetic object," said Inman. "Due to the lack of conservation and the use of non-archival materials, these slides have broken, or the film has begun to decay, warp and disintegrate. As we consider them now, the new cracks in the glass and the dissolution of the slide create the sense that this work of art is threatened, changing or fading from the canon of art."

Invented in the late 19th century, lantern slides were used widely as teaching tools from the 1920s through the early 1950s.  Inman discovered the slides in her capacity as curator of the slide library at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. They were originally used for art history classes and museum documentation, and were the primary visual aids to guide group lectures and to assist in storytelling, but by the 1960s most were replaced by transparency film or chromes.

"Inman's work invites the viewer to see the beauty in objects that others would discard," said Jeanne Bracy, associate gallery director.  "Her focus on the cracks, tears and discoloration of the objects illuminates the aesthetics of antiquities."

The effect of viewing the photographs of the lantern slides is informed by an embedded comment on the art of photography itself, as the work is an image -- of an image. Subjects of the slides range from hand-colored images of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, and the outskirts of Lhasa, Tibet, to black-and-white images of the Roman Colosseum and London's Buckingham Palace. The lantern slides are 4 x 3-1/4"; the photographs are in the form of 24 x 28" archival ink jet prints.

As in the images of the lantern slides, the photographs of long-ago disregarded books and postcards focus on the subtlety and detail of the effects of time and decomposition. Some of the photographs take on particular facets of this evolution, and others pull away, showing the full forms and tattered edges, according to Inman.

"Together, these images consider the infinite details that lay within each of these objects: layers of weathered, torn and folded pages, bindings and covers reflect on these materials as objects to be seen, and not just read," she added.

Inman, a local artist, received an M.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art. She is the recipient of several awards including the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Creative Artist Special Opportunity Stipend, and is an adjunct professor for several universities in the Philadelphia area.

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. Hours are Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 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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