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'Interior Life' Photography Exhibition at Colby-Sawyer College Puts the Personal on Display

NEW LONDON, N.H. — The Colby-Sawyer College Fine and Performing Arts Department will host “Interior Life,” an exhibition featuring work by seven photographers who know that the personal is often on display if we choose to look. They throw open closet doors, look under the bed, and peer into spaces both familiar and neglected to examine the stuff of life – the things that accumulate in the places we inhabit and that ultimately create and represent our interior lives.

The opening reception will take place on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. in the Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery. Light refreshments will be served and admission is free. The exhibition will continue through Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010.

The show, says exhibit curator Colby-Sawyer Assistant Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Nicholas Gaffney, was inspired in part by an idea his wife had and also by the Walker Evans photograph “Alabama Farm Interior (Fields Family Cabin), 1936,” taken from the seminal book Evans created with James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

“All that photograph does is describe what Evans want us to see; he isn't trying to manipulate us into feeling sorry for the family or looking down on them,” says Professor Gaffney of the unsentimental black and white image. “He is simply describing the inside of their house, leaving us with our own assumptions.”

Each artist in “Interior Life” does something similar to Evans with their chosen subject matter, fulfilling what Gaffney sees as their primary jobs as photographers: to describe what they see, which is as simple and as hard a thing as any photographer can do.

After Peter Riesett's two grandfathers passed away, he went into their houses to photograph both what was left behind and what was being packed up. Riesett lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and resides in the permanent collection at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, as well as in various private collections.

Cara Phillips of Brooklyn brought her camera into the consulting and operating rooms of plastic surgeons, creating photographs that are both beautiful and menacing. Phillips' own history with the beauty industry began as a child model for Ford Models.

The photographs of Meggan Gould, visiting assistant professor of art at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, make us stare harder than we ever have at that most mundane and recognizable of things: the computer screen.

Brooklyn-based Beth Riemer photographed the middle school where she teaches, searching out small scenes of humor and subtle beauty.

Eugen Sakhnenko shows us what nightclubs look like after the party is over, what has been left behind and needs to be cleaned up.

Sakhnenko was born in Kiev, Ukraine and grew up in North America. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada.

Vermont photographer Tarrah Krajnak's images of darkened bedrooms and hallways help create a sense of anticipation and dread; something is either about to happen or has already occurred.

Finally, Joseph O. Holmes of Brooklyn took his passion for street photography inside for six weeks to focus on the silhouettes of people created against the wildlife dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History.

“The project carried me from sunlight into museum darkness, from rapid-fire to a zen-like slow motion, and forced me to rethink the whole process of stalking strangers,” Homes describes the series. “These images strip the components of traditional street photo down to the barest cues: silhouettes gazing out over vast, artificial veldts and jungles.”

The Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To learn about other upcoming events at Colby-Sawyer College visit

-Kate Dunlop Seamans

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000