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Maryland photography exhibit includes Keller photos

December 14, 2000

Maryland photography exhibit includes Keller photos



By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer


Photography in Maryland goes back to the beginning of photography in America, said William F. Stapp, guest curator of "Maryland in Focus: A Photographic History, 1839-2000."

The exhibition, one of the first to survey the evolution of American photography in the context of one state, opens tonight at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.

The historical society's collection is "very, very substantial," said Stapp, a photographic historian, adjunct professor of photography and independent curator. Early images, including a rare daguerreotype portrait made about 1840 by Henry Fitz Jr. in Baltimore's first photographic studio, will be on display. There will be professional and amateur photographs, as well as snapshot albums.

Photographs by Alexander Gardner taken two days after the battle of Antietam are included. Shown at Mathew Brady's New York gallery in October 1862, they were the first photographs ever seen of American war dead. It changed and legitimized the showing of work that was not an idealized vision of the world. Photography always has been a visual conscience, Stapp said.

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The exhibit includes work by 16 contemporary photographers, showing the diversity of Maryland photography, Stapp said.

Three photographs by local photographer Benita Keller were selected.

"I feel very privileged to be there," Keller said.

Stapp, who had seen some of Keller's work years ago, was reminded of it by a mutual friend. He looked at her Web site - www.benitakellerphoto.com - and the first image he saw was "KKK, Annapolis, Md. 1998." "It really kind of blew me away," Stapp said. People are astounded that the photograph was made in 1998. He called the image "powerful," and had it printed large - 35-by-47 inches

"I just happened to be there," Keller said of the photo.

Keller has done photography in Maryland for 20 years. When Stapp called her, she thought he was calling about some of her landscapes.

Keller's "Sawing Off Deer Legs, Clear Spring, Md. 1998" and "Valentine's Dance, Clear Spring High School 1999" also are included.

"Maryland in Focus: A Photographic History, 1839-2000" runs through Sunday, April 15, at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. in Baltimore. The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the first Thursday of the month 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $4; $3 for seniors, students with valid ID and those ages 13 to 17; free for members and those 12 and younger. There is a family rate of $12 for two adults and up to three children, 17 and younger. Admission is free on Sundays.

For information, call 1-410-685-3750, or visit the Web site at www.mdhs.org.

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