Chester College of New England will welcome photographer Jeffrey Silverthorne to campus on Tuesday, October 7 as part of its 2008 Visiting Artists Symposium Lecture Series. He will give a free public lecture in the Wadleigh Library conference room at 2:30 p.m.
Silverthorne has for nearly forty years been considering the body and its representation. His photography, whether in black-and-white or color, borrows from both documentary and staging techniques with a fluent, exuberant feel for investigation. He tirelessly explores the particular way in which photography can play at once with reality and fiction. In his photographs of dead people at the morgue, the Female Impersonators, or in his other portraits, he indeed borrows from documentary formalism; he sees himself as a witness. But like Diane Arbus – whose work he admires and whom he knows and feels close to – they convey an ambiguous, unsettling sense that you know and recognize them without really understanding what there is to feel beyond the subject itself, or who it is showing us the picture. Fiction and reality entwine, enigmatically and mysteriously. This same taste for strangeness informs the set pieces abounding with mythological, biblical, pictorial and photographic references, in which the artist readily exhibits himself. The Silent Fires series openly displays the artificiality of the compositions: a canvas backdrop is stretched, the bodies and objects seem to be coated with paint, and the lighting contributes to the fantastical quality of the scene.
The Visiting Artists Symposium Lecture Series features guest speakers throughout the fall semester. Lectures are held at 2:30 on Tuesdays in the Wadleigh Library conference room. After the public session, the artists will be available to the students formally registered in the College's Visiting Artist Symposium (Course #IDS.301). The Fall 2008 series is coordinated by Darrell Matsumoto, Chair of the Department of Photography/Media Arts and Design.