Marion Herrick Room
November 3, 2014 to January 3, 2015
Sunday, November 23, 2:00 - 4:00 PM.
[Illustration: Fish 3; photo by the artist]
The Wendell Free Library is especially pleased to host an exhibition of new work by professional photographer Stephen Petegorsky, Northampton, MA.
The ten works on display are based on stained animal skeletons from the Biology Department at UMass. The initial images, the results of scientific inquiry, are transformed into elegant visual art works as fascinating as they are poetic.
In the exhibition statement Stephen writes, “Animals (dead and alive) have often found their way into my photographs. When I learned about a collection of specimens in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts, I arranged to see them. Aside from some taxidermy, they also had scores of creatures that had been ‘cleared and stained.’ In this process, chemicals are used to remove the tissues of small mammals, fish, reptiles, and rodents, or to render them translucent. Stains are then employed to make the animals’ bones and cartilage a dark color. The specimens are then stored in glycerin, and result allows their structure to be seen and studied in a way that is not possible with other methods. Unlike an x-ray or a dissection, this science allows me to see what is inside an animal in a way that is more lyrical than literal; more poetic than prosaic.
Photographing them is a starting point for me; the first images are generally paired with a background I choose from photos taken in the natural world: plants, grasses, bubbles, clouds, leaves, dirt, rocks. What I end up with is much less about science than it is about my sense of wonder and curiosity.” The prints are all composed of a flat ground on which is superimposed an image of one or two stained skeletons. The inherent symmetry of the animal forms is often juxtaposed against the placement of the whole form on the page.
Stephen was educated at Rhode Island School of Design, Amherst College, and Brandeis University. He has taught at Northampton, Amherst College, the University of Connecticut, Hampshire College, and Smith College, and has shown his work in numerous group and one person exhibitions throughout the country. He has received many grants and awards for his work and is represented in many museum and private collections.