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Gelbke Exhibit Celebrates Silver

The golden age of photography is really all about silver, and the new exhibit at Hiram “Before Digital: The Silver Age of Photography,” celebrates the days before Photoshop and memory cards through images with strong Hiram connections.

The exhibit, which kicks off with a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Gelbke Fine Arts Center on the lower campus, features many photos of Hiram, from the College’s archives, dating back as far as the 1880′s, as well as photos by past Hiram students and faculty, all of which were produced through the “silver process.”

Linda Bourassa, professor of art, who assembled the show said from its first appearance in the 19th century, until the late 1990’s, most photographs were produced using film, cameras and print surfaces  which relied on the different combinations of the interaction of light with silver and chemicals to produce the black and white or color images.

She has made the study of the now-antiquated process the basis for her freshman colloquium this fall. Her students have created their colloquium projects around photos of Hiram using the old process each will make a presentation about it.

“I got some photos from the archives by Otto Gilpin, who was a student here before the First World War,” she said. “And then he returned after the War, and continued to document Hiram and Hiram life.”

Other photos are by Dennis Kievets, who taught photography at Hiram in the 1970s and 80s, as well as several other Hiram faculty and students.

“The idea is to present sort of a history of photography through the eyes and lenses of Hiram photographers who worked in the era of silver,” Bourassa said.  “We have also put out some early equipment and artifacts, so visitors get some idea of how the process worked.”

Although the rise of digital imaging in the 1990’s has greatly reduced the use of the silver-based processes, Bourassa say some photographers still use it.

“I still like it,” she said. “It’s important that we don’t lose sight of its place in history.”

The exhibition will run through Dec. 18 at the Gelbke Fine Arts Center. Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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