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Photography of Ralph Gibson on display at OWU's Ross Museum


September 6, 2004

[ Ralph Gibson ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- 79 photographs are currently on display in Ohio Wesleyan's Ross Art Museum, and viewers play important roles in the function of all the images—they must provide their own interpretation for each image.

Overtones an exhibition by Ralph Gibson, is a collection of black and white photographs from the recently published book by the same name, and the images in the exhibition are presented in the same manner as they appear in the book.

Best known for his reductive imagery, Gibson advances his theory of visual Overtones in Overtones, both in the book and in the exhibition at Ross. Overtones are a well known phenomenon in musical experience wherein two or more tones combine to produce another tonality. Visual Overtones function in much the same way; the enhanced impressions experienced by the viewer is a result of the two images that produce it. Therefore, Gibson has chosen pairings of his photographs that conform to the rules of visual scale and photographic tonality. Gibson offers no explanatory texts for the images, so viewers are challenged to find meaning in each of the still images, and determine the inferred significance of those images, which are paired together in a single frame.

"The importance of the exhibition is not only due to the quality and character of the work, but for additional reasons as well," said Justin Kronewetter, director of the Ross Museum and professor of fine arts at OWU. "Students of college age are really drawn to his work because in both concept and technique, Gibson's imagery is the type of work to which they can easily relate. It is highly sophisticated, yet created using the least complicated of cameras and darkroom techniques," he said. "And at a time when there is increased fascination with the wizardry of digital manipulation, it is both instructive and enjoyable to study a large body of work produced by a modern master who creates his photographs 'the old fashioned way,'" Kronewetter added.

Gibson is a celebrated art photographer who resides in New York City. He is represented in over 150 public collections throughout the world and has had hundreds of exhibitions of his photographs. Gibson is the recipient of numerous awards and holds honorary doctorates from The University of Maryland and Ohio Wesleyan University. He is a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation and an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres of France.

Gibson has a long-standing relationship with Ohio Wesleyan, and his artwork has been exhibited at the university on several other occasions. OWU students, who have studied with him as part of the New York Arts program, include Lesley Louden, OWU Class of 1999, whose work was exhibited in Ross earlier this year as part of the Cranbrook Academy of Art exhibition.

Overtones which is supported by Nancy LaPorte Meek OWU Class of 1959, is on view at Ross Art Museum through Sept. 19. The exhibition was last displayed in Paris, France. Gibson will give a slide presentation Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in room 312 of the R.W. Corns Building. The presentation, "A Point of Departure," will cover over 40 years of work through which he will trace his creative process as a photographer. Immediately following Gibson's talk will be a reception for the artist in the galleries of the Ross Art Museum. At that time Gibson will be accessible to the public and willing to answer questions about his work.

Admission to the Ross Art Museum, Gibson's slide presentation, and the reception is free. The public is welcome to attend.

The Richard M. Ross Art Museum, located at 60 S. Sandusky St., Delaware, Ohio, is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. The museum is closed Monday and Saturday. Special visits may be arranged by contacting the museum at 740-368-3606 or at ramuseum@owu.edu.

Photograph of Ralph Gibson courtesy of Lesley Louden '99.