Art show celebrates Ansel Adams and ‘softest of elements which carves the land’

Tetons and Snake River by Ansel Adams

Water, precious water, is the unifying theme of a new photography exhibition at the Massillon Museum.

The 117 black and white photographs filling the main-floor gallery explore water as a resource, a habitat and a force of nature. There are images of clouds, rivers, geysers and icebergs. Rock formations caused by water. Driftwood. Aquatic plant life. Sea lions.

“Water is the softest of elements, and it also carves the land,” observed Jeanne Falk Adams, who curated this touring exhibition, titled “Fragile Waters.” It will open with a free reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, and remain on view through Sept. 14.

For the exhibition, Adams selected vivid water-themed photographs by her late father-in-law, Ansel Adams, along with similarly impressive work by two other devoted nature photographers. Dorothy Kerper Monnelly is known for capturing the marshes of Massachusetts. Ernest H. Brooks II captures underwater landscapes, and more recently, the icebergs of Antarctica using infrared photography.

“Some are quiet and serene, some are active and exciting,” she said of the show’s varied imagery. Adams intermingled the three photographers’ work because, “Putting them together starts to give you a comprehensive idea of the beauty, the power, the scarcity of water.

“It’s a show about water, and they are the interpreters.”

The former CEO of the Ansel Adams Gallery located in Yosemite National Park, Adams “was asked by Photokunst to create this show as a response to the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as an antidote,” she said. “It shows the opposite of the contamination — clear, pure, revitalizing water.”
Adams hope for “Fragile Waters” is that gallery visitors “will feel connected, a sense of comfort, inspiration, responsibility, advocacy.”

To the world, Ansel Adams is a brilliant nature photographer and conservationist.
To Jeanne Falk Adams, he was those things and much more. Ansel, who died in 1984, was the father of her husband, Michael Adams.
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