Photography museum offers more than photos

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By Mike Lewis

By Mike Lewis

This museum will challenge a visitor’s perception of the visual arts world.

The UC Riverside Contemporary Museum of Photography offers a wide variety of photographic works, not only for fans of photography, but also for visual medium as it evolves to its current modern form.

It has something for everyone when it comes to visual art. With photographs ranging from pre-print daguerreotypes to the prints from celebrated photographers such as Harold Edgerton and Ansel Adams, the museum has a wide variety of photographic history. Along with their permanent print collection, there are dozens of antique cameras on display, as well as exhibits explaining how photography was invented. New exhibitions are brought in every three months, always giving a fresh feel.

The museum goes beyond traditional photographs and the newest digital art forms. One of the largest parts is the contemporary arts base.

As the curator of the exhibitions at the UC Riverside Contemporary Museum of Photography, its Ciara Ennis’ job to gather photographs, video and other art forms to create a specific underlying subject in an exhibit.

Ennis began her art career as a painter, but soon found another passion.

“I decided that I’d much rather play around with other peoples work, put it together and make interesting shows, and create this vibrant expression,” she said. “If somebody can come up (to) an exhibition and then see something that blows them away… that to me is success.”

The exhibition goes far beyond just displaying photographic prints and contemporary photography but uses oil paintings, looped video, digital images, and even a sculpture of cardboard and tape. “Photography doesn’t just represent the negative,” she said.

The museum never limits itself to simply showing only art work.

“Each time we have an exhibition, we always have an educational program that goes along with it,” Ennis said.

On Nov. 19, the museum will host a panel discussion for the public on its current show, “Still, Things Fall From The Sky,” led by a panel of local experts in art, psychology and English.

“We want people to experience art in a more challenging way,” Ennis said. “It’s too easy to put pictures up on the wall where you don’t need to think about them.”

“Create and be Recognized,” is the next exhibition scheduled on Jan 17. It’s an exhibition of outsider photographers, meaning artist that have not had traditional training as artist.

“It is very odd and very traditional and very unorthodox,” Ennis said. “They are people who have felt a need to channel whatever it is in their life into an art form.”

By showing these exhibitions, the UC Riverside Contemporary Museum of Photography has made itself such an unusual, yet diverse bank of imagery.

“A lot of people come to this museum and expect to see framed photographs on the wall,” Ennis said. “We try to challenge the idea of what photography actually is.”

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