Accidental Mysteries: Vernacular Photographs


Oct 06 2008 - Nov 15 2008

Accidental Mysteries Extraordinary Vernacular Photographs from the Collection of John and Teenuh Foster
Video: Artist Talk with John Foster

Accidental Mysteries, originally exhibited at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis, Missouri in 2005, is a unique collection of found photographs collected by John and Teenuh Foster. Over ninety images are on display in the exhibition, selected from a collection of hundreds, found over the years in flea markets, antique shops and auctions. Both John and Teenuh have backgrounds in the arts; John is the founder and past-president of ENVISION Folk Art of Missouri; he also serves on the national advisory board for The Folk Art Society of America and serves on the Board of Trustees for SPACES, a non-profit organization in California dedicated to the preservation of art and cultural environments worldwide. Teenuh Foster is the owner of her own firm that represents nationally known illustrators and photographers. With an eye for design combined with a passion for collecting works by self-taught artists, the Fosters have amassed an impressive collection of exceptional and often awe-inspiring array of images.

The term “vernacular” is often associated with indigenous artifacts, language and customs. However, it also refers to people who make objects (or take photographs) but who also happen to be untrained and do not consider themselves to be artists. The Fosters considers vernacular photography to be an often-overlooked genre of folk art. Just as anyone can pick up a paintbrush and be considered an artist, the same can go for a camera— the difference merely lies in the tools used. The more time one spends looking at these images, the skill and creativity behind many of them (whether they were made intuitively, accidentally or on purpose) becomes more apparent through the subject matter and formal qualities. Vernacular photography has been a long overlooked genre of folk art that capture elements of history, sociology and psychology. The exhibition features a selection of photographs from the collection of John and Teenuh Foster that share attributes of great design and mystery, often capturing “accidental mysteries” on film.

Hourly Schedule

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Friday, October 10 5pm
Art and Design Room 165 Sponsored by the Student Photographic Soceity at NMU $2 for non-students
John Foster
Friday, October 10 6pm - Friday, October 10 8pm
remarks by John and Teenuh Foster at 6:30pm
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Friday, October 17 6pm
Film: Other People's Pictures
FREE! Take a peak into the little-known world of vintage snapshot collecting as this documentary follows nine obsessive collectors who share an addiction for acquiring photographs lost or abandoned by their original owners. Art and Design Room 165
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Teenuh Foster