Since 1983, the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University has had nearly 20 fund-raising shows of prints for sale. More than 100 photographers have contributed work. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the PRC having its own gallery space. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the center’s incorporation. So “Special Editions: The PRC Print Program” is something of a celebration. It runs through Nov. 1.
Thirty-two photographers are represented. Each has one photograph. As you might expect, the show is highly diverse — from a black-and-white portrait of Patti Smith, by fellow rock star Michael Stipe, to a color view of early morning in Lhasa, by Michael Jacobson. Diversity, at its best, is vibrant and tonic; at its worst, scattered and overwhelming. Here it’s vibrant and tonic.
Highlights? Frank Gohlke’s full-foliage view of the Sudbury River, taken in Ashland, is a marvel of both textured color and the interplay of vertical (trees) with horizontal (water, riverbank, sky). Lissa Rivera uses color to comparably excellent effect in “Portrait of Lincoln, Milton Academy.” With its transporting spareness, this interior is one that the flesh-and-blood Honest Abe might feel at home in. Both contrast mightily with Henry Horenstein’s rendering of the noble mass of an elephant’s lower leg and foot.
Ineffable and enchanting, Jesseca Ferguson’s collage “The Moon” could be a two-dimensional Joseph Cornell box. Conversely, Paul Wainwright’s exacting view of a Colonial-era window and shutter would fit right into Paul Strand’s “Time in New England.” The rills and ripples of the pages in Abelardo Morell’s “Wavy Book” recall the cross-sections in Edward Weston’s still life of an artichoke.
There are many contenders in the show for most memorable image, and not just those described above. The most memorable title isn’t open to debate. It belongs to one of those contenders, Pelle Cass’s “Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence (quotation by George Santayana).” When philosophy meets photography, it’s like form meeting function — or vice versa.
The PRC Print Program
At Photographic Resource Center
at Boston University,
832 Commonwealth Ave.,
through Nov. 1, 617-975-0600, www.bu.edu/prc