Beaver Island

Two special exhibits…

Shaping Memories Through 3 Lenses and
Hands, Blues & Views: Personal Work of Peggy Brisbane, Robert Barclay & Steve Jessmore

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
— Ansel Adams

Jeff Daniels
Jeff Daniels on stage – credit: Robert Barclay

Since the founding of this institution 127 years ago, many photographs have been taken on campus that have created the visual history of the university. These photographs were not simply taken; however, they were created in the mind’s eye of the photographer and precisely executed with purpose and intent. It is that vision, talent, experience, strategy and sometimes the luck of being at the right place at the right time, that has created the imagery that has shaped the historical record of the CMU experience.

For 37 years, from 1980 until 2018, only three photographers have had the responsibility of creating this vital record: Robert Barclay, Peggy Brisbane, and Steve Jessmore. The husband and wife team of Barclay and Brisbane served as CMU photographers for nearly 30 years, their combined years of service: 61. When they retired, Steve Jessmore assumed the position from 2013 to 2018.

The exhibition opening at the Clarke Historical Library on September 26: Shaping Memories Through 3 Lenses examines how these three artists approached their diverse responsibilities with different perspectives and sensibilities. With personal stories, each photographer shares the images they feel capture the essence of an experience, showcases their favorite work, or illustrates their most poignant memories.

“Lots of laughs and lots of tears.”

“I was first contacted to photograph this event where female athletes were getting their athletic letters. Mostly they wanted group photos of all the teams who were represented. Group photos are fine, but this evening for the 248 women athletes was so much more.

No one was in uniform, no one was playing a game, the room was quite dark for photos, but the emotions in the room were palpable.

Athletes from as far back as 1946 returned to campus. Memories and accomplishments were finally being recognized.

To add to the emotion, Fran Koenig, who had served CMU women’s athletics for 20 years and was a national leader in women’s sports, died the day before the event”.

“Lots of laughs and lots of tears” as Marcy Weston summed it up.
– Peggy Brisbane

Janet Weston - Letter Winners
Photo credit: Peggy Brisbane

Peggy and Robert, who spent most of their career shooting film, reflect on how evolving technology has impacted the photographer’s experience and final product. Imagine not knowing if you had captured the winning play of a football game until the film was processed and returned a day or so later. Today this seems archaic, yet it was a common occurrence for these photographers.

One frame at a time, Peggy and Robert alone are responsible for thousands upon thousands of outstanding images that fill the Clarke archives. Without them, countless CMU memories would be lost.

Award-winning photojournalist, Steve Jessmore left his indelible mark on the historical record through spectacular images of CMU people and places that in spontaneous, unscripted character take your breath away. He loves to capture the mood and did it so very well. Every one of his images truly tells a story.

While the Clarke exhibition features imagery, these photographers created while on the job, their passion through photography is featured across the hall in: Hands, Blues & Views: Personal Work of Peggy Brisbane, Robert Barclay & Steve Jessmore. The opening reception for this art exhibition in the Baber Room will take place at the same time as the exhibit opening in the Clarke – so much to see in one evening! Robert Barclay’s deep love of all things ‘Blues’ is revealed in his collection of images taken of both famous and obscure artists. His reverence for and experience with each Blues artist is revealed in his written anecdotes.

Peggy Brisbane’s photo exhibition featuring hands: giving, teaching, dancing, expressing, creating, are quietly captured in mid-motion. The personalities providing life to the hands are absent, just their hands tell the stories.

Steve Jessmore exhibits street views of Flint during its Sesquicentennial, composed in unique panoramic formats. The views are not polished and crisp but layered in the realities of the life of this city.

Photo credit: Steve Jessmore

Please join us for this unique opportunity to honor these artists who have had a profound impact on the historical visual records of this university. All are welcome; admission is free of charge.

Two exhibit openings – one event!
Sept. 26, 2019 – 7pm

Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium
Followed by receptions in the
Clarke Historical Library
and Baber Room
Charles V. Park Library – CMU

Shaping Memories
Through 3 Lenses
Sept. 26, 2019 – February 2020
Clarke Historical Library

Hands, Blues & Views
Personal Work of
Peggy Brisbane, Robert Barclay & Steve Jessmore
Sept. 23 – Nov. 27, 2019
Baber Room

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