Portraiture Exhibit Captures Everyday Beauty

Human beauty in many of its forms is on display in a portraiture photography exhibit at the Marion Art Center.

Neil Alexander – a photographer and documentary filmmaker who co-owns studio in New Bedford – is the artist behind at least two-dozen photographs on exhibit on the first floor of the center. This photo collection, entitled “Portraits”, features Alexander’s commissioned works during the past 40 years, with the oldest photo taken in 1973.

Visitors have been “incredibly positive” about the exhibit so far, according to Deborah Bokelkamp. Alexander was chosen because Sippican Elementary School’s own exhibit featured self-portraits from the young students – and the center wanted to complement those works with a professional exhibit, she said.

Alexander’s exhibit showcases every kind of person, young and old – including close-ups of older Creole tradesmen (that had been commissioned by the New Orleans Museum of Art), a pregnant woman, wedding photos, children out in nature, and a father and a baby.

Although his primary background is architecture, “I’m equally comfortable with both disciplines, whether working with people or working with buildings,” the photographer said.

While Alexander converted entirely to digital photography in 2004 – many of the photos displayed were the product of older, larger cameras. For example, one photo of Dr. Charlie Parsons in 1973, working in an Aucoit boatyard, was taken using a large format camera (with four by five sheet film),. Another photo of the backs of children peacefully watching a canal in Italy was taken with 120 film, according to Alexander.

“Portraits can be many things. You can even have people with their backs to the camera instead of looking at the camera,” he added. The children in the photo in Italy – who happen to be children – also appear in another more recent photo.

An additional photo that caught the eye was of Dave Dukes, “the grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan” in his office with a white dog aptly in the corner.             “Let’s just say it is not a German Shepard,” he said. Alexander said he took the photo for a magazine assignment, and his high school friend happened to know the man.

The Marion Art Center is located at 80 Pleasant Street. For more information on the exhibit, visit www.marionartcenter.org.

By Laura Fedak Pedulli

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