HOLYOKE – Jerome Liebling (1924-2011) was a city guy. Born in Brooklyn, he took some of his best-known photographs in cities: a little boy in Harlem, his coat aswirl; a dozen people seated around a frieze, themselves looking like a frieze, in Manhattan’s Union Square; a slaughterhouse worker in St. Paul, vast in bulk and aghast in expression. There are many more.
Such an urban guy’s decision to relocate to Amherst in 1969, to teach at Hampshire College, might have seemed like asking for trouble. Yet the move didn’t affect the quality of Liebling’s work. The photographs in his book “The Dickinsons of Amherst,” for example, combine strength and delicacy just the way Emily Dickinson’s poetry does. Clearly, Liebling was at home amid his new surroundings.