Water world at the Arts League

Post by Ryan Menezes

Cell phone photographs. Not exactly what you would expect to find on display in a professional art exhibition. Yet there they were, framed on the back wall: Ten Days at the Pool, by Eric Russell, seven columns and eight rows of colorful cell-phone-sized photographs, images depicting the many colors and textures of a pool’s surface. The work is part of the group exhibition entitled, The Secret Life of Water, a group exhibition featuring work by 16 members of Brandywine Photo Collective at The University City Arts League.

Sarah Barr, Playing Out Back (2007) a chromogenic print from a 4" by 5" negative
Sarah Barr, Playing Out Back (2007) a chromogenic print from a 4″ by 5″ negative

Full of pleasant visual and conceptual surprises, the exhibit features images of swimmers, beaches, birds, lakes, floods–images representative of almost every characteristic we associate with water. One work on display is Philip Kaplan‘s Frozen Moment, a photograph of melting icicles suspended in midair. The exquisite clarity of the image is matched by the clear meaning of the title, referencing the exhibition’s theme: frozen moments, latent motion, hidden meaning.


Peter B. Kaplan. (2007) Frozen Moment.

Other highlight’s include Jeffrey Steen’s photographs of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, including an emotionally and symbolically charged image of a shredded flag, still flying, after the storm. Photographs by Gerry Piotrowski show rocks naturally strewn among flowing, foaming water. There is a wonderfully peaceful and romantic photograph of The Old Mill by Kitty Jones. The photographers depict water in stillness, in motion, in peace, and in fury. There are even a couple of three-dimensional works, by Stephanie Kirk. One of these includes a photograph of a washing machine and a dryer, which is mounted on the bottom of a white washtub. Displayed in the middle of the room, its clever title, Whirlpool 0.1, demands attention and receives it.

The Secret Life of Water could easily have been an exhibition full of bland, watery art. But wishy-washy these works are not.


University City Arts League
4226 Spruce St
until Oct. 26

–Ryan Menezes is a student in Colette Copeland‘s arts writing class at University of Pennsylvania.