Self Portraits Celebrate Center for Photography's 30th Anniversary

Article excerpt

Since 1979, Silver Eye Center for Photography in the South Side has been presenting Pittsburghers, and the public at large, with a wide range of photographic expression in the form of exhibits by locally, nationally and internationally recognized photographers.

These shows have brought greater awareness of emerging talents and established photographers from across the globe and served as a launching pad for many careers.

In fact, many don't realize it, but the nonprofit organization is the oldest of its kind in Western Pennsylvania, dedicated solely to the understanding, appreciation, education and promotion of photography as an art form and as an expressive form of visual communication. It's also one of only a handful of nonprofit venues exclusively devoted to photography in the United States.

Silver Eye began as two separate organizations: Blatent Image Gallery, a cooperative gallery designed to provide exhibit space to local fine-art photographers, and the Silver Eye Photographic Workshop, which brought nationally known photographers to Pittsburgh to exhibit their work and to conduct workshops. These two organizations merged in 1985 and became the Blatent Image/Silver Eye, a name which changed to Silver Eye Center for Photography in 1992.

Now, the organization has taken a moment to reflect on the past 30 years in the form of a large-scale group exhibit "Self Portrait: Silver Eye at 30," which brings together a fascinating array of self portraits submitted by 105 organization members from 18 states and three foreign countries. Photographs were submitted from as far as Germany, Canada and Cyprus, and there are 71 pieces from regional artists, which comprise the bulk of the group's membership.

All methods and kinds of images are on view. The framed prints are contemporary and alternative, black-and-white and chromogenic, silver-gelatin and digital. There are even alternative processes represented, such as tintypes and ziatypes.

Given the theme of "self-portrait," members were given the opportunity to creatively represent who they are with a camera. Many participating exhibitors interpreted this theme literally by focusing their lens on themselves, as in Thodoris Tzalavras' untitled photograph (2009), which features the photographer looking down onto the lens of his camera while pressing on a remote shutter- release cable. …