The feature photo includes details from photographs on display at the exhibition: Kenji Nakahashi, Japanese, 1947-2017, Trimming, 1987, chromogenic color print. Anonymous gift in memory of Kenji Nakahashi; George Barker, American, b. Canada, 1844-1894, Niagara Falls, 1888, albumen print. Gift of Neil Scholl; and Joanne Mulberg, American, b. 1954, North Fork, Long Island, 1990, chromogenic color print. Gift of the artist.
Susan Van Scoy, Ph.D., associate professor of art at St. Joseph’s University, New York’s Long Island Campus, guest curated an exhibition at the Hecksher Museum of Art titled Viewfinders: Photographers Frame Nature, which will be on display Jan. 28 through April 16.
“I have always been interested in how photography has the ability to capture a sense of place, especially in the New York region,” Dr. Van Scoy said. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to educate wider audiences on the different types of fine art photography.”
St. Joseph’s faculty, staff and alumni are invited to an opening reception at the museum Thursday, Feb. 9, from 6-7:30 p.m. SJNY guests can register for the event by Feb. 3.
A Look at the Symbiotic Relationship Between Nature and Humans
The exhibition examines the effects that humans have on nature and vice versa, looking at how each impacts and influences the other.
“A lot of people don’t realize that as of 2022, most outdoor experiences have been constructed by humans,” Dr. Van Scoy explained. “There is very little untouched wilderness that remains. Similarly, most landscape views have been affected by painting compositions, followed by photography compositions.”
Dr. Van Scoy, who previously curated two shows at St. Joseph’s very own Board Room Gallery in O’Connor Hall, selected roughly 70 photo-based works for the exhibit, which are broken into five sections: Picturesque, Sublime, Denatured, Abstract and Imaginative.
“The collection offers a well-rounded survey of American landscape photography from the late 19th-century to the present and how it has evolved over the years,” she said.
Creating a Meaningful Experience
Dr. Van Scoy felt the hardest part of curating the exhibition was physical space restraints.
“When you are curating an exhibition of art objects, you have to deal with the dimensions of a gallery and the sizes of the art objects. Are they going to fit on the wall or be too crowded? Will there be enough room for a label?” she said. “When you are writing an article or a book, you have a word count, but it’s not the same; you can reword a sentence, but you can’t resize an art work.”
The biggest takeaway Dr. Van Scoy wants the viewers to have is the power of photography.
“Overall, I want viewers to realize that artists, particularly photographers, have the power to get people to see differently,” Dr. Van Scoy continued. “It is also such an important tool to get people more educated about climate change and landscape preservation and conservation.”
A note of thanks from Dr. Van Scoy: “I could not have guest curated the exhibition without the formidable team of museum staff members who helped me: I would like to thank Director Heather Arnet and Curator Karli Wurzelbacher, Justyce Bennett, Kerrilyn Blee, Deborah Johnson, Caitlynn Schare, Jill Rowen, and many others. It takes a team to create an exhibition!”