Reece Museum Exhibition - ETSU

Johnson City Press, January 2004

Taken from:  The Arts - Reece Museum preserves history, educates with art

By Allison Alfonso
Press Staff Writer

The Carroll Reece Museum has three shows on display through February that reveal the diverse roles it fills as collector, educator and historian.
Robert Miller’s photographic series, including “Death of A Church” and “Heartwood,” are done in silver gelatin print format with a large-format field camera. His printing process, exhibit materials reveal, involves using a process called unsharp masking, which creates a soft, fuzzy negative of the original, and printing it with the original negative. They are then hand-toned.

“Death of A Church” is a stark and touching documentary study of the deteriorating Cannel City (Ky.) Union Church. The first photograph presents a somewhat respectable exterior. The remainder of the series presents dust and dirt-covered pews, floors, windows, peeling paint, building materials, an organ and lights, whose presences speak of the life now missing. The series is not eerie, but haunting.
“Flaking Ceiling” presents a long, aisle view of pews, a collapsing ceiling, a quiet organ and preacher’s pulpit. The long view captures the movement of parishioners toward their seats and the gaze toward the preacher.
“Wall with Three Windows” shows debris and dust revealed in the light coming through windows and concealed in the darkness surrounding them. The vitality outside is portrayed in the trees, bushes and winding road that are shown through the windows.

The series “Heartwood” is a study of patterns in, and the uses for, wood. These are commanding compositions whose patterns, contrasts and textures demand attention. But they, like Miller’s other works, offer many themes.
“Rusty Outhouse Hinge Cannel City, Kentucky” is a close-up shot of a hinge connecting two pieces of wood. The hinge shines like a jewel. Human ingenuity and creativity are suggested.
“Jagged Barn Wood Cades Cove, Tennessee” portrays layers of rotting wood in whose lined surfaces can be seen initials. It speaks of time, working and history.

It’s a show from which one can’t walk away unmoved.