“As photographers, we are not only composers, we are editors. We are selecting what makes the strongest picture, rejecting what weakens it by choosing what to include inside the edges of the frame, choosing where the visual weight of each tone and shape will reside in order to create cohesive and dynamic structure—to make pictures that are more than what they are of.” -Paula Chamlee

View Finders: Four Photographic Voices illuminates the work of four contemporary photographers with local roots—Paula Chamlee, Catherine Jansen, Brian Peterson, and Michael Smith—who represent four distinct approaches to the medium. This exhibition will include Chamlee’s incisive studies of surface and place; a selection from Jansen’s project 1008, an “experiential journey into sacred storytelling” created in more than 25 trips to India; Peterson’s melodic explorations of nature and light; and a range of Smith’s rarely-exhibited portraits from across the globe. Despite their differences in process, technique, and equipment, all four artists emphasize the power of photography to represent connection and to communicate an experience of environment, energy, and spirit. On the occasion of the Michener’s 30th anniversary, View Finders celebrates the contributions of these artists and recognizes photography as a significant force in the legacy of the region.

Paula Chamlee discovered photography after returning to college in the 1980s to finish a degree in painting. In the 30 years since, she has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad for her craft. Her work has been widely exhibited and can be found in the permanent collections of forty museums in the United States, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress. Chamlee has received several grants, including one from the Leeway Foundation for “Excellence in Photography.”

Catherine Jansen has been inventing, exploring, and creating photographic processes that merge state of the art technology with traditional photography since the late 1960s, and has exhibited and published both nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Grant and two Cultural Incentive Grants. Jansen’s work is represented in numerous museum and corporate collections.

Brian H. Peterson, who served as the chief curator of the Michener Art Museum from 1990 to 2013, has been an artist, critic, musician, author, and arts administrator in the Philadelphia area for more than forty years. His photography has been featured in more than 35 solo exhibitions since 1980, and his work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums in the United States. Peterson received two fellowships for visual arts criticism from the PA Council on the Arts.

Michael A. Smith, born in Philadelphia in 1942, began working in photography in 1966 and has since been featured in more than 200 exhibitions. He has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Smith’s work is included in the permanent collections of more than 125 museums in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bibliothèque Nationale.

View Finders: Four Photographic Voices is supported by the Photography Patrons Circle of the James A. Michener Art Museum.

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