Announcements /
Not as it Seems: Photographs by Rosamond Purcell
Photography exhibit on display at the Second Floor Connector Gallery and Stanley Building Lobby, April 16-October 3, 2024
Hematite “Bird Wing,” image courtesy of the artist.

For local photographer and conceptual artist Rosamond Purcell, nothing ever stays the same. As artifacts defy preservation, age, and decay, Purcell captures moments of transformation that are at once unsettling and sublime. Perhaps best known for her photographs taken in natural history museums, over the last five decades she has collaborated with scientists, scholars, collectors, and writers such as the late Stephen Jay Gould, the late Dr. Pere Alberch, the collector George Loudon (Object Lessons, UK) , the curator Robert Peck, and her husband Dennis Purcell on various projects that explore the nebulous space between art and science. “Often, I depend on the appearance of objects and people rather than on internal inspiration to stir me into action,” Purcell says. “I use whatever I can of shapes, light, and time as elements in composition. And I pay strict attention to composition on the assumption that if the appearance is satisfying to the viewer, emotional involvement might then become possible.”
The photographs in this exhibition (printed by Singer Editions, Boston) come from Nature Stands Aside, a retrospective exhibition of Purcell’s work curated by Gordon Wilkins at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, September 2022 - January 2023. As her collaborator Stephen Jay Gould wrote of her work, “The more you look, the more you see, as our programmed preferences search out their intended targets.” The unexpected discovery lurks in every corner of Purcell’s work, and yet, nothing, we find, is as it seems.  

About the artist:
Rosamond Purcell is a leading American photographer whose strangely beautiful, often unsettling images of objects from the natural and man-made world have earned her international acclaim. Her collaborations with such diverse intellects as paleontologist and science historian Stephen Jay Gould, magician Ricky Jay, and Shakespeare scholar Michael Witmore testify to both the depth and breadth of her interests: the murky boundary between art and science, the mystery of decomposition and metamorphosis, and the universal human need to collect and classify. Her numerous books include Book Nest, Illuminations, A Glorious Enterprise: The Museum of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and Owls Head: On the Nature of Lost Things, a lyrical account of Purcell’s 20-year photographic “excavation” of a Maine junkyard. Her work has been exhibited at many major museums throughout the United States and Europe, and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, D.C.), and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Purcell is a life-long resident of the Boston area. 

Image caption: Hematite “Bird Wing,” image courtesy of the artist.