Washington, D.C. photographer Cynthia Brumback to exhibit at Fairfield University's Walsh Art Gallery


Image: photograph by Cynthia BrumbackThe photographs of Cynthia Brumback, an artist whose quicksilver intuition produces graceful floral works and intriguing composites and folding books, will be on display from Thursday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 14, at Fairfield University's Thomas A. Walsh Art Gallery. An opening reception for "Across Time: The Photographs of Cynthia Brumback" will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on September 18. Brumback will hold an informal talk on her work at 6:30 p.m.

The show includes miniature still lifes, pieces combining old tintypes with natural settings, composites and two-panel couplets covering Brumback's career from the 1970s through 2001. Brumback's husband, noted artist Wang Ming, has helped choose the pieces, many of which depict images from their trips to China and Taiwan.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1934, Brumback, now a Washington, D.C. resident, taught and promoted art in both the classroom and as an educational producer for public television during the early years of her career. Having worked in television, which was then a black-and-white medium, she moved easily into the world of woodblock printing, a style that lends itself to black-and-white treatment.

Developing a real love of the artistry involved in cutting, she studied with Un'ichi Hiratsuka, whose work was so revered in Japan that he was named a national treasure. She traveled to Taiwan and, wanting an excuse to explore her intriguing surroundings, picked up a camera.

"I thought the camera had no artistic value whatsoever, but I wanted to get outside," Brumback said.

It was that fateful outing that lead to Brumback's passion for photography. A tireless observer, Brumback said she works in an instant, as soon as something catches her eye.

"I see something and take a picture," she said. "I don't set up anything. It's that sixteenth of a second looking through the lens. What I first saw is what I keep."

Brumback works in both black and white and color, in which she finds harmonies she likens to music. As she uses no artificial light, the challenge of her work is to catch an image at its peak.

"And everything is always in a process of change," she said. "I tried setting things up, but it doesn't work. Everything is dead before it can begin."

Brumback's collection includes single images and sequences, sometimes comprised of three to nine 20"x24" photos stretched along a gallery wall. She also works in a folding book format that lays out a few photos in a folding screen fashion, allowing her to set the distance - or lack thereof - between images. Brumback also works in photo montage, in which she cuts selected images from her own photos and recomposes them to create a more forceful image.

She has had one-person shows in the United States, Taiwan, China and Poland and is part of the public collections of the American Embassy in Beijing, The Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw and The World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Many of the works in the Fairfield show will include images from her trips to Asia. The sacred granite carvings of animals guarding Ming temples, unusual rock formations and black-and-white floral prints are among the most memorable.

"I think that Ms. Brumback's images are among the most powerful and direct in contemporary photography," said Diana Mille, director of the Walsh Art Gallery. "She sees, feels and quickly captures the purity and essence of her subjects always bringing something unique and personal to her 'found vocabulary.'"

The Walsh Art Gallery is located in the Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Admission is free. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 14, 2003

Vol. 36, No. 2