Photographs Are Ideas

  • Dates: January 24, 2018 - May 25, 2018
  • Recurrence: Recurring weekly on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Location: Lehigh University Art Galleries
  • Address: 420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem, PA 18015
  • Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Price: Free


Photography has been a lifelong passion for LUAG Director and Chief Curator Ricardo Viera. When Viera first came to Lehigh University in 1974, his priority was to establish professional standards for the art works he found.  To his dismay, he discovered—among the many paintings, prints, and coins which made up the fine art collection—there was only one photograph.  With this discovery his first IDEA was born: to build a teaching collection centered on photography.

The first images that Viera added to the collection were from an incomplete portfolio by William Rau (1855-1920), Lehigh Valley Railroad Photographs 1895-1899, transferred from Linderman Library.  Immediately after that, LUAG received a gift of photographs from Lehigh alumnus Lou Stoumen ’39 (1919-1991), a photographer and academy-award winning filmmaker who encouraged the LUAG staff, and advised Viera in building the collection.  It was an opportune time in the photography market, and LUAG was able to exchange and trade images, especially 19th and 20th century works, which became the foundation of the teaching collection. Now, in 2018, the collection—which represents Photography as a whole since 1839—provides a window through which we can marvel at multiple acts of magic, from photography’s scientific roots to its artistic soul, as well as its many humanistic achievements. 

Light and shadow continue to play a mysterious role in the theatrics of digitalization and the photoshop of ideas, as interpreted through various strategies by contemporary photographers.  This exhibition presents paired selections from the LUAG Teaching Museum photography collection which reveal how photographs can function as metaphors, narratives, and lies in a theater of possibilities.  This curator’s choice exhibition includes works by:  Robert Heinecken, Chema Madoz, Jerry Uelsmann, Liliana Porter, Lou Stoumen, Graciela Iturbide, Mike Disfarmer, Duane Michals, and many more. 

Photographs Are Ideas continues until May 25, 2018 in the LUAG Main Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center. Hours are Wednesday – Saturday 11 AM – 5 PM and Sunday 1 PM – 5 PM. Please join us for a reception celebrating all of this semester’s exhibitions at the LUAG Main Gallery on February 8, 2018 from 6 – 8 PM.

Image: Daniel Paashaus, Purgatorio, from the film "Katabasis", 2011