February 2, 2006

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Art to make you think

Photo exhibits offer works worth the drive

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

The gallery exhibitions coming to New England College will be worth the drive to Henniker if you seek art that is compelling and maybe even makes you uncomfortable.

“Final Exposure: Photos from Death Row,” by Boston commercial and art photographer Lou Jones, returns to New Hampshire as one of the exhibits that open Feb. 2 at the college with a 6 p.m. reception.

Art photography was a way for Jones to take a different look at a subject that had interested him for years.

“Basically all they [politicians and experts] do is rehash the top two or three arguments and throw them back and forth to each other. ... Photographers are ground zero so I thought that art might be able to give a face to this subject matter,” Jones said.

“Photos from Death Row” has previously been shown at St. Paul’s School in Concord as well as Plymouth State University.

Although Jones didn’t think schools would be a good venue at first, he has found students to be “untainted” by the trappings of adulthood. To the students, issues were “much more black and white. Something’s right or something’s wrong...reactions are a lot more definitive, a lot more vocal.” The students carried on the debate he was hoping to spark with the project.

Jones started the six-year project in 1990. Access was difficult but they managed to garner 27 portraits of inmates, along with excerpts from letters and interviews. Final Exposure: Portraits from Death Row by Lou Jones and Lorie Savel is in its second printing in book format.

Also focusing on human subjects is “Revelations: Portrait and Self-portrait Photography,” by Thomas J. Petit and Gary Briechle, curated by Charlie Lemay. “Assemblage Art: Mixed Media” by Charles Tufkanjian, a 2004 NEC graduate, will also be exhibited Feb. 2 through March 16.

Charlie Lemay, a friend of Jones’, teaches photography and digital imagery at St. Paul’s School and guest-curated “Revelations.”

“I picked two fellows who were doing self-portraits and portraits and wanted to try to get them to sort of inform each other,” he said.

Gary Briechle is an “extraordinary black and white specialist” who uses antique processes such as collodion, a wet glass plate process that is very old and produces a large negative and produces “exquisite prints.”

Thomas J. Petit teaches at the New England School of Photography in Boston. The work that will be shown of his is “very visceral, kinetic, not quiet at all.”

“His latest project involves photographing himself in abandoned medical facilities,” Lemay said. In a release, Petit said of the photos he took of himself suffering from disease, “The self-portraits created over this span of 30 years...are a documentation of these emotional and physical changes and [have] become a real and tangible vehicle for coping with the experience.”

The exhibit is free and closes March 16.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

Check it out

Final Exposure: Photos from Death Row by Lou Jones (fotojones.com) returns to New Hampshire next week as part of New England College’s spring gallery show. Two more shows focus on human subjects in “Revelations: Portrait and Self-portrait Photography by Thomas J. Petit and Gary Briechle curated by Charlie Lemay.” “Assemblage Art: Mixed Media,” by Charles Tufkanjian, a 2004 NEC graduate, will open with them Feb. 2 through March 16.

The Gallery at New England College, Main Street, Henniker, 428-2329. Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.



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