Arizona Daily Wildcat January 15, 1998
CCP features Ansel Adams' intimate view of nature
When most people think of photographer Ansel Adams, a few familiar images come to mind: colossal landscapes of majestic, fog-laden mountains, expansive forests with trees extending ever skyward. "Intimate Nature: Ansel Adams and the Close View," a new exhibition at the Center for Creative Photography, hopes to broaden awareness of the depth of Adams' work.
Sure, the pieces that comprise "Intimate Nature" are images of trees and stones, water and pine needles. But what sets these works apart from the more recognizable pieces of Adams' work is the close range between the camera and its subject, and thus the intimacy between the viewer and each print.
At first glance, a photograph of a small cluster of pine needles may cause a viewer to scratch her head and wonder just what she's looking at. Other shots provide no scale by which to judge the true size of the subject, as Adams treats a small shrub and a towering tree with the same attention to detail, surface, texture and form. According to Trudy Wilner Stack, the Center's Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, the pieces reflect a more abstract approach to Adams' beloved natural subjects.
"In many of the grand landscapes," Wilner Stack said, "the composition is achieved by nature itself, though the photographer controls the framing, decides how far back to place the camera, etc. Here, there is a stronger sense of interpretation, of artistic choice."
As curator of "Intimate Nature," the first exhibit of Adams' work on the University of Arizona campus in more than six years, Wilner Stack selected the pieces to reflect a rarely examined aspect of Adams' prolific career to educate the public on the "size and depth of his work."
The 45 black-and-white photographs in the exhibit date from 1927 to 1978, though the bulk of the prints chronicles Adams' early work in the 1930s. Many of the older, vintage prints are seldom seen outside the CCP's extensive Adams archive, due to their fragility and extreme sensitivity to light.
"Intimate Nature" returns to its CCP home after a four-city tour of galleries in Texas, Michigan, Florida and New York. The CCP houses the complete Adams archive, including more than 3,000 exhibition prints and a research collection of the artist's negatives, correspondence, contact prints and other original material. As the keepers of this work by the world's most recognized photographer, the CCP staff members are constantly pressured to organize exhibits showcasing Adams' work.
"When you ask the average person to name a photographer, chances are Adams is the one person they can name. There's a real demand for his work, and we almost always have an Adams show out there somewhere," Wilner Stack said. "The challenge is not to send out the same 40 or 50 prints each time."
Aspiring shutter bugs and art and nature lovers inspired by the exhibit can schedule hour-long blocks for print viewing of works in the Adams archive every afternoon during the regular week and on some Sundays. According to Nancy Solomon of the CCP, individuals take advantage of the vast Adams' resource for a variety of reasons and the archive is available to everyone.
"We had one man who came in for one hour every Friday afternoon for years. He just wanted to see the prints, as a kind of personal research," Solomon said.
"Intimate Nature" opens Friday with a reception from 5-7 p.m., and runs through March 1. Gallery talks from William Pitt Root, Tucson's first Poet Laureate, and former UA President John P. Schaefer will take place Jan. 27 and Feb. 8. The CCP is free and open to the public 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 621-7968.