The PRC arrives in Porter Square
CAMBRIDGE — Note the dateline. The Photographic Resource Center has moved. After several decades located on Commonwealth Avenue and affiliated with Boston University, the PRC has crossed the Charles, to Porter Square, and an affiliation with Lesley University. This makes sense. With its College of Art and Design and Lunder Arts Center, Lesley has notably increased its presence on the local visual-arts scene. Long may the affiliation prosper.
It’s off to a good start. With photographer Christopher Rauschenberg making the selections, “Exposure: The 22nd Annual PRC Juried Exhibition” includes the work of 11 photographers. All except Casey Davis get four photos. She gets only three, but that’s OK. A picture as sly, lucent, and amusing as “Meta, Maynard, MA” — which shows Davis’s son taking a photo of his mother taking a photo of him — has the worth of several. There are so many nice details, it’s easy to miss how glorious the quality of light is.
There’s another Davis in the show, Karen. She shoots museumgoers against the background of a painting. The interplay of pattern and color is most pleasing. Most of the work in the show is in color. Nicholas Gaffney’s “Green Car and Landscape” declares its chromatic allegiance. As arresting as is the interplay of different greens (automotive and vegetative) is the formal chiming of one car’s raised hood with the raised trunk of the one next to it.
Where Casey Davis focuses on her son, Tira Khan is inspired by her three daughters. Khan, who lives in Newton, balances intimacy with the kind of distance only a parent can provide (since only a parent gets reminded, usually via raised voice, how much distance can be desired).
Julie Mihaly shifts the focus from offspring to parent. After her elderly mother’s death, she made collages of items associated with her (apples, a perfume flask, the cover of a 1951 issue of Vogue — is the photo by Irving Penn?). She placed the collage next to a text about her, and photographed them as a diptych. The results are both charming and affecting. Conversely, Thomas Whitworth’s diptychs — a still life next to old nude photos purchased on eBay — are about distance rather than connection.
Three of the photographers concentrate on the human face. When Francis Crisafio taught in an after-school arts program he had his pupils hold penciled self-portraits in front of their faces. The layering of photograph (which we see), drawing (which we also see), and face (which we do not) is striking. The way Lauren Shaw, who lives in Belmont, moves in very close for her portraits and self-portraits is, in its different way, no less striking. Rebecca Moseman spent last fall photographing Irish Travelers. Her portraits are in black and white. It’s a wise decision: In color they might be overwhelming. Look at the faces in “Ronnie and Bernie.” Now try to forget them.
Ronnie and Bernie look to be in early adolescence. Matthew Kamholtz, of Brookline, prefers younger subjects: “children navigating a complex world,” as he puts it. At the PRC, that world encompasses New Orleans, Philadelphia, Havana, and Roxbury. Vivid as the places are, the children are that much more so.
Lee Kilpatrick lives in Somerville. His photos stand out in the show for two practical reasons: They’re the only ones that are unframed (which makes for a greater informality) and they’re panoramas, 8 inches by 27 inches or 34 inches. Kilpatrick photographs people in social gatherings — at a meal, watching a sporting event — and using a panoramic format lets us see a social unity that, on the other side of the lens, might be felt but rarely seen. It’s a another way to eliminate frames, this time social rather than physical.
Visitors might reasonably expect “Exposure” to be in the Lunder building. Instead, it’s in the VanDernoot Gallery, in University Hall. To locals of a certain age, that’s still the Porter Exchange building. To locals of, let us say, an uncertain age, that’s still the old Sears building. The PRC has moved to a Cambridge that itself keeps moving.
EXPOSURE: The 22nd Annual PRC Juried Exhibition
Photographic Resource Center, Lesley University, 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, through Aug. 10. 617-719-5674, www.prcboston.org