Growing Home

March 12, 2012 | by by jessica laniewski | Pursuits

Photographer Jerry Uelsmann has been creating unexpected and at times haunting images for the past five decades, such as this house with gnarled tree roots or a winged woman rising from the sea. The Detroit-born, Florida-based photographer will be presenting recognizable pieces from his collection as well as never-before-seen works at the Peabody Essex Museum in The Mind’s Eye: 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann, curated by Phillip Prodger.

“When you are young, people show you photographs that have a veracity element, so we are conditioned to believe that photographs are real,” says Uelsmann. Playing with that expectation, the photographer’s gelatin silver print Untitled (1982) mixes reality with the implausible. Uelsmann photographed the abandoned, weathered house in Victor, Colorado, a town whose population was between 30,000 and 50,000 people during gold mining days and now has a mere 441 residents. Intrigued by the idea of a house remaining the same while its residents left, the photographer blended the house image with one he had taken of tree roots. “The way I have evolved working is more like an artist and a painter in the studio,” says Uelsmann, who created the image without a computer program. “Then I go into my dark room and experiment with what I have.” The exhibit will be on view until June 30.

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