Opening Shots

Leverett House Photography Exhibit Series, Leverett House New Library now thru April 28

SINCE WE LEFT behind the days when everyone's stick-figure paintings were hung in our fourth grade classrooms, we seldom see the art work done by other students. In an effort to fill that gap, a group of Harvard photographers, with the support of Leverett House tutor Carol Cramer, have mounted a photography show at the Leverett Library. Changing exhibitors every week, the two-month long show will display the work of nine student photographers. If the succeeding offerings are as good as the first three have been, the show is well worth attending.

John Getsinger '73 opened the series with a portfolio of photographs of Lowell, Mass. In the angle of his shots of Lowell townspeople--two muddy boys, a glowering tavern keeper with a criminal record, a girl still in her robe--the photographer's presence is implicit, but not intrusive. Getsinger's apparent intimacy with his subjects has enabled him to communicate their expressions and their relationships to their environment directly; his pictures lack the stiffness, posturing or distance which are hazards of this type of photography. The immediacy of Getsinger's photographs is further underlined by the prosaic, sometimes ironic details he has captured--a box of cookies on a mantle, a box of Kools on the girl's bed, photographs within photographs. Often, Getsinger's still shots are as exciting as his portraits: a picture of a crystal vase with carnations behind a window screen is a study in the metamorphosis of texture.

IN THE SECOND WEEK of the exhibition Sam Unger displayed seven studies of hands. Unger has photographed human hands as sculpture--none of the arrangements are gestures; all are disembodied. In most of his pictures, Unger successfully maintains the tension of treating a normally expressive subject with the eye of an architect; the few shots in which the position of the hands is neither gesture nor arresting form are disappointing. The communication of the texture--both of skin and of darkness--in these predominantly black photographs is impeccable.

Shots of the Grateful Dead and Mick Jagger highlight this week's exhibit by Charlie Olchowski and John Shealy. Considering the circumstances under which he must have taken his shots of bands in performance, Olchowski's pictures are technical wonders. Olchowski's goal was to capture the various bands' music in their expressions: rock fans may find that he succeeded, but for others these shots are likely to be as unsatisfactory as watching Fillmore with the sound off. More interesting are Shealy's shots behind the scenes--backstage, in vans, among the crowds at Woodstock.

HOPEFULLY MORE PEOPLE will visit the Leverett House exhibit as it continues through the month of April, although it is admittedly awkward to prowl around the display panels without disturbing the small library's more diligent clientele. The inaccessibility of this fine display of Harvard student work should stimulate people to plan exhibitions on a larger scale around the University. We shouldn't have to wait until our classmates have published or perished to see their achievements.