Dr. Bruce Weigl, a distinguished professor in the Division of Arts and Humanities at Lorain County Community College, and Keith Berr, an award-winning photographer with studios in Cleveland, Ohio and Santa Fe, New Mexico, have collaborated on a very special publication of photography and poetry titled Ruins and Life.
The two were introduced by Joan M. Perch of the Beth K. Stocker Gallery at Lorain County Community Colleges Stocker Art Center who suggested and currated the exhibit of the photography and poetry titled Ruins and Life.
Ruins and Life features a series of photographs by Berr and poems by Weigl that reflect their personal stories and experiences as well as history and life in Southeast Asia, from the temples and streets of Cambodia to the waters of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. The photographs included in this exhibition are part of a personal series of images Berr captured in Southeast Asia while he and his partner Linda Barberic were exploring the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia. Built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD, this temple represents one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. A symbol of Cambodia, it is the only temple to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation. The structures one sees at Angkor today are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis whose other buildings - palaces, public buildings, and houses - were built of wood and are long since decayed and gone. Inspired by the iconic nature of the sculptures within the temple and the spirit of the people he encountered, Berr has captured the essence of a people and a culture that has endured for centuries. From the streets of Cambodia, Thailand, to the waters of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam , these photographs also reflect the struggles, the rewards and the story of the impermanence of human existence.
These incredible images are paired with the poetry of Bruce Weigl, whose unflinchingly honest poems, about Vietnam and about America, have brought him critical praise, a wide readership, and international eminence. Born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, Weigl spent four years in the service, serving in Vietnam from December 1967 to December 1968, where he received the Bronze Star. Weigl survived to become one of America's most admired poets, eloquently speaking for an entire generation of Americans whose lives were broken by the war and whose moral confusion desperately needed addressing. In The Circle of Hanh Weigl writes, "The war took away my life and gave me poetry in return... the fate the world has given me is to struggle to write powerfully enough to draw others into the horror." In addition to writing his own poetry, he translated poems of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers captured during war with Thanh T. Nguten of the Joiner Research Center. His relationship to Vietnam has deepened through these experiences, as well as through the study of Vietnams history and culture, friendships with Vietnamese writers, a growing interest in Buddhism, and finally the adoption of his Vietnamese daughter.
Says Weigl, Charlie Simic told me a long time ago that the world had given me a subject, and that I could not be a writer and turn my back on that subject. I listened to him. And, although Ive continued to write about Vietnam, I no longer write about the war per se, but about the country, which Ive come to love very much as a result of many visits there as a translator and visiting writer. Weigl has never denied the pain and loss of his generation, but by finding both beauty and meaning in some of the most painful episodes of our recent history, he has authenticated the resilience of the human spirit. The poems included in this exhibition reflect that spirit.
Bruce Weigl obtained a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a Master of Arts Degree from the University of New Hampshire. His first full-length collection of poems, A Romance, was published in 1979. After he received a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1979, he was an assistant professor of English at the University of Arkansas and later held the same position at Old Dominion University. During the 1980's, Weigl published two more poetry collections: The Monkey Wars and Song of Napalm. In 1986, he became an associate professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and was later promoted to professor. In 1999, he published two more poetry collections, Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems and After the Others. He left Penn State in 2000 and took a position at Lorain County Community College as a distinguished professor. He also published a memoir that year titled The Circle of Hanh: A Memoir. Weigl's first award was a prize from the American Academy of Poets in 1979. He received two Pushcart Prizes, a Patterson Poetry Prize, and a Yaddo Foundation Fellowship as well as the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature. He was awarded the Bread Loaf Fellowship in Poetry in 1981 and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988 for Arts and Creative Writing. He was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Song of Napalm. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio, and is a distinguished professor in at Lorain County Community College. He is married to Jean Kondo, an artist, and together they have one son and one daughter.
Keith Berr is an award-winning commercial photographer who has been producing remarkable images for more than thirty years. A graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Keith continually hones his fine art skills with his commercial work and travel photography. Berr believes that creating a great photograph takes the vision of an artist. Great photographs are waiting to be found everywhere, everyday. Keith's unique ability to help his subjects relax in front of the camera allows him to capture their true personalities like few other photographers can. Engaging, yet respectful, he is as comfortable reaching out to a Buddhist monk in Cambodia or a corporate executive in New York.
Whether he's creating fine art or lighting products, food, or people, his dramatic images reveal his mastery of natural or created light and his ability to capture a special moment in time. Keith travels worldwide and has studio locations in Cleveland, Ohio and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The images in this book are available in a limited edition series of prints, The fine art prints are museum quality Giclee photographs, each individually printed and signed by the artist. For further information on pricing and available sizes and editions please contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org visit www.keithberrfineart.com, or call 216.566.7950.