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“If One Thing Matters, Everything Matters”
Exhibition of Photography by Nathan Tyrell

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University will present “If One Thing Matters, Everything Matters,” an exhibition by senior Nathan Tyrell of medium format color photographs taken while on an internship in Germany that combines his work and experience in mechanical engineering and the visual arts. The work will be on exhibit March 31 through April 4 with a reception where visitors can meet the artist on April 3 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Lucas Gallery at 185 Nassau Street. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.

As a major in mechanical engineering Tyrell received a Ruhr Fellowship grant through Princeton’s Keller Center in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to travel to Germany for an internship at an aluminum processing plant. He also received funding through the Lewis Center for the Arts to support photographic work he planned during his trip. In Germany, he was affiliated with the Ruhr Universität Bochum.

His month-long project at the aluminum plant in Essen was to examine the effect of various heat treatments on the corrosion-resistance of extruded automobile aluminum. While there he was drawn to the sight of an enormous pile of scrap aluminum visible outside his office window and how the pile was forever changing, growing and shrinking, as scrap aluminum is taken away for processing and new material arrives.

“The pile was visually arresting,” notes Tyrell, “And I turned my photographic endeavors toward documenting how this recycling pile changed. Standing beside it, one is transported to a strange, malleable, and beautiful, alien environment.”

Tyrell has been documenting his travels through photography since 2012, borrowing the same Yashica medium format film camera that is a few decades old from the Lewis Center. He prefers the visual frame of the two-and-a-quarter-inch square film format over a digital process. Besides cities and towns throughout the Ruhr region of Germany, he has photographed locations in the Turks and Caicos, Gloucester and Rockport in Massachusetts, Prague, Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Venice.

The artist is making about forty 30-inch square prints using a large format printer that was moved into his studio to complete the project. “It is pretty crazy to have both a studio and access to this expensive piece of professional image-making technology at my disposal through the Lewis Center,” notes Tyrell.

He notes the specific images in the show are less important than the collection of images as a whole. He credits the typologies of Bernd and Hilla Becher and the work of photographer Wolfgang Tillmans as important influences in his work; the title of his exhibition is from a book by Tillmans.

“The exhibition is about process,” he explains. “The process of taking photographs. The process of making printed images. The process of looking at images. The process of making meaning of images. Of course, the process of making aluminum. These are all iterative processes; we finish one iteration, and what we have produced influences the next generation of the same process. There is feedback.”

The Lucas Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.


Link to photo:
Photo caption:  One of Nathan Tyrell’s photographs, part of a series in his exhibition at the Lewis Center’s Lucas Gallery.
Photo credit:  Photo by Nathan Tyrell

Event Information

Opening reception:
Thursday, April 3
7:00 p.m.

Exhibit runs:
March 31 - April 4, 2014

10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Lucas Gallery
Lewis Center for the Arts
at 185 Nassau Street
Princeton University

Free and open to the public




Photo by Charles Waldron '15

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