This exhibiton presents the photographs of five former students of Aaron Siskind. The five photographers—Joseph Jacna, Kenneth Josephson, Ray K. Metzker, Joseph Sterling, and Charles Swedlund—worked together in the 1950s at the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institue of Technology under the tutelage of Aaron Siskind.
Today they have expanded professionally in various directions—in both academic teaching and commercial photography, while energeticallly pursuing their own personal creative work. Aaron Siskind exerted a formative influence on them all, the evidence of which may be seen in this exhibition of 90 photographs.
Joseph Jacna says, “Aaron [Siskind] has had a strong formative influence on me as a photographer and as a teacher. In neither case did he pass on a dogma, but rather a directive—and a means—to find out who I am and what I want to do. In subtle ways, of which I am unaware, Aaron was a catalyst for all the opinions, attitutdes and actions I now call my own.”
This exhibition will complement the exhibition Photographs by Aaron Siskind in Homage to Franz Kline being shown simultaneously at the University’s David and Alfred Smart Gallery. Siskind is one of the very few photographers to break ties with traditional photography and become identified with an artistic movement. It was New York’s abstract expressionist circle of the late 1940s and early 1950s that gave Siskind support and a sense of artistic community. The photographs in Siskind’s Kline series, which were created from 1972 through 1975, use as their technical subject matter walls with anonymously painted images and signs. Siskind found these images in Jalapa (Mexico), Rome, and Lima. The evocation in the resulting photographs of Kline’s style and of the relationship between the two men is a testament to their friendship and to Siskind’s early interest in abstract photography.