This exhibit began with a gift. When I left the Provost's Office in May of 2006, the Faculty surprised me with a digital camera.* That summer and again during my sabbatical in 2007-08, my wife Sunni and I enjoyed stays in Italy. She is the true photographer of the family; but when, on our first day in Italy, her camera strap broke and the fall ruined her lens, she announced that, since I was now equipped with a new camera, I was "on duty." This land we visited-from Tuscany and Umbria and Rome in the first trip, to Venice, the Dolomites, and the "Northern Arc, " including Bolzano, Padua, Verona, Vicenza, Soave, and Bellagio on Lake Como, on the second-is, of course, a photographer's dreamworld: diverse landscapes with marvelous colors and wondrous light. It should be easy to take a beautiful photo in such a beautiful place. I became an enthusiast: the photos in this exhibit are selected from over 2000 images I took in Italy.
Why these images? Why not the Italy we usually encounter-exuberant, alive with human activity (more like the street scene in Volterra below)? Or the Italy of bountiful markets and delicious foods and wine? Believe me, I have many such images, full of color and delight and memories. The images gathered for this exhibit, however, suggest to me a different theme. Though they do not feature portraits or people in action, they are scenes with evidence of human presence. They invite the viewer to enter into the landscape, to become the subject, to stay awhile, to take an Italian sabbatical.
These Italian idylls were for me periods of exploration, writing, recalibration, and rejuvenation. I could have no better traveling companion than Sunni, and my Italian images all reflect the joy of sharing that time. But I also owe her thanks for helping to select and prepare these images for this exhibit. Thanks also to Robin Wagner and Kerri Odess-Harnish at Musselman Library, who astonished me by suggesting this exhibition.
This project and my philosophical interests have intersected. In the next academic year, I will introduce a new course, Philosophy of Place, that will explore the concept of place (vs. space) and the meanings that places have in our lives.
*The camera is a Casio Exilim, (7.2 megapixel). No filters were used.