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‘Living in the Light’

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Article Published: Nov. 3, 2011 | Modified: Dec. 3, 2011
‘Living in the Light’

John Scarlata chaired ASU's photography program from 1999 to 2000. 'Living in the Light: A Retrospective' at the Turchin Center will showcase the late photographer's life and work.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Keeter

A lecture on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. will discuss the life and work of the late photographer, John Scarlata.

The exhibition, “Living in the Light: A Retrospective,” hosted at Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, displays a compilation of the beloved photographer and former chairman of ASU’s photography program.

Guest lecturers Jay Phyfer (professor of photography and digital imaging, Virginia Intermont College), Gil Leebrick (professor emeritus and former director of the Wellington B. Gray Gallery, East Carolina University) and Pac McLaurin (photography department, Appalachian State University) joined by close friends of Scarlata will gather for an in-depth conversation about the artist’s life and his work.

Other special guests will include Joe Champagne (professor of photography and digital imaging, Virginia Intermont College), Jackie Leebrick, Ben Garfinkle (Oakland, Calif.) and Tom Braswell (photographer and interim gallery director from Wellington B. Gray Gallery, ECU).

A reception will be held in the galleries immediately following the lecture.

This exhibition, organized by family, friends and colleagues, will feature works by Scarlata (1949-2010).

“Living in the Light: A Retrospective” was designed in partnership with Scarlata and exhibited by the Wellington B. Gray Gallery, located at East Carolina University, in early 2010.

Interim director Tom Braswell said in the exhibition catalog, “One of the Southeast’s outstanding photographers and educators, John Scarlata has been an image-maker for more than 35 years. This exhibition of over 100 photographs traces his evolution as an artist from his graduate schoolwork at California Institute for the Arts in the mid-1970s to his most recent images.

“Using primarily large format cameras and printing in a variety of photographic media, from 19th century antiquarian processes to digital/inkjet output, Scarlata has created a significant and exquisite body of work. From his early influences by modernist photographers, such as Karl Blossfeldt, Edward Weston and Minor White, to the alternative methods of viewing the landscape suggested by the New Topographies photographers of the 1970s ... Scarlata’s images invoke and evoke nature and man’s interventions in the environment, exploring complex interrelationships and subtle beauty.”

A native of Long Island, N.Y., Scarlata studied photography at Brooks Institute of Photography and California Institute of the Arts, receiving his MFA from the latter in 1976. He subsequently moved to North Carolina and was a Third Century Artist at the Arts Council of Wilson in 1977. Teaching positions at UNC-Charlotte and Penland School of Crafts followed.

From 1979 until 1999, Scarlata taught at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Va. From 1999 until 2010, he served as the chairman of the photography program in the ASU Department of Technology.

A past chairman and conference coordinator of the Society for Photographic Education – Southeast Region, he has been active in the professional development of education in his medium. Scarlata’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including recent shows in Cuba and China.

The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is located at 423 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, visit

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