Gallery Program

Image caption: Hematite “Bird Wing,” image courtesy of the artist.

Not as it Seems: Photographs by Rosamond Purcell
April 16-October 3, 2024

On display at the Second Floor Connector Gallery and Stanley Building Lobby 

For local photographer and conceptual artist Rosamond Purcell, nothing ever stays the same. As artifacts defy preservation, age, and decay, Purcell captures moments of transformation that are at once unsettling and sublime. Perhaps best known for her photographs taken in natural history museums, over the last five decades she has collaborated with scientists, scholars, collectors, and writers such as the late Stephen Jay Gould, the late Dr. Pere Alberch, the collector George Loudon (Object Lessons, UK) , the curator Robert Peck, and her husband Dennis Purcell on various projects that explore the nebulous space between art and science. “Often, I depend on the appearance of objects and people rather than on internal inspiration to stir me into action,” Purcell says. “I use whatever I can of shapes, light, and time as elements in composition. And I pay strict attention to composition on the assumption that if the appearance is satisfying to the viewer, emotional involvement might then become possible.”
The photographs in this exhibition (printed by Singer Editions, Boston) come from Nature Stands Aside, a retrospective exhibition of Purcell’s work curated by Gordon Wilkins at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, September 2022 - January 2023. As her collaborator Stephen Jay Gould wrote of her work, “The more you look, the more you see, as our programmed preferences search out their intended targets.” The unexpected discovery lurks in every corner of Purcell’s work, and yet, nothing, we find, is as it seems.

Image caption: Hematite “Bird Wing,” image courtesy of the artist.

About the artist