MOUNT DESERT — Anne Wetzel will exhibit her photograms in the Mellon Room of the Northeast Harbor Library throughout the month of September. There will be an opening reception Thursday, Sept. 4, from 4-6 p.m.
Anne Wetzel began her career in photography in 1994 after leaving her administrative position in the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. Her fascination with photography began when faculty member Becky Young invited Wetzel to study with her at the University. Drawing inspiration from her love of gardening, she initially chose flowers as models, photographing them in the studio in black and white. She then moved on to landscape photography, also in black and white.
Her subsequent interest in human subjects was sparked when she attended the Holy Week services at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago, and discovered one of her true photographic interests, the worship of God in its many forms. She says, “I was deeply struck by the visual power of these ancient rites. I wanted to explore and capture with the camera the interplay of darkness and light; the juxtaposition of the familiar and the strange; moments of inwardness, isolation, intimacy and communion; the vulnerable human being moving in community to encounter the mystery of God.” Her Holy Week project evolved into a publication co-authored with Janet B. Campbell, “Through the Window of the Ordinary: Experiences of Holy Week.”
In May 2000, she spent a week at Chartres Cathedral, photographing the cathedral and absorbing the history and spiritual feeling of this great Cathedral. The labyrinth placed in the sanctuary and an integral part of the cathedral’s history was particularly intriguing to her. Wetzel’s two trips to China broadened her understanding of the closeness and integration of the Eastern faiths with her Western upbringing. She discovered and photographed some of the sacred sites and ceremonies of that country.
In July 1998, Wetzel joined the communications team of the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, England, as a photographer. There, caught up with the Conference’s diversity, and with the need to find a unifying symbol, she discovered the wonderful pectoral crosses worn by the Bishops. She designed a montage using these crosses, which was published in 1999.
Wetzel lives on the coast of Maine, not only photographing all of the life around her, but experimenting in her darkroom. The photograms started as an experiment playing in the darkroom after she saw an exhibition in New York of early botanical studies. She makes these contact prints with no camera and no film using the plant material around her, in her garden, on the roadsides and anything that catches her eye.