By Matthew Gundrum —
On April 10 the library will be hosting an unveiling event of a photo by world famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams. The reveal, located on the library’s first floor, will be accompanied by several small exhibits based on Adams and the work he did with the University of Wisconsin–Stout.
The story begins with David Barnard. In the 1970s Barnard created the Department of Motion Picture Production here at Stout and served as the former dean of Learning Resources. Barnard, an alumnus of Stout, often did landscape photography as a hobby.
Being a landscape photographer, Barnard was well acquainted with the work of Ansel Adams. So when Barnard took a trip to California and met Adams he had two goals in mind: to purchase a work and pose an invitation to work with Stout students. Both came into fruition as Barnard purchased a print and brought Adams back to lecture and work with students.
The print that Barnard bought was “Mount Williamson – Clearing Storm.”
“The photo was taken in California by Manzanar,” said Julie Hatfield, University Archives Assistant. “He was taking photographs from 1942 to 1944 at the Manzanar relocation camp during World War II where Japanese-Americans were.”
The photo is regarded as a masterpiece. The variety of tones, sharp contrast and perfect focus are representative of Adams’ skill. But what is often forgotten in photography, especially vintage photography, is the work involved.
“In Ansel Adams’ time, a lot of the work that came with the print was actually in post production,” University Archivist Heather Stecklein said. “He’s doing all the dodging and burning, he’s making all the decisions: ‘Ok I know that this light beam needs this kind of work,’ so there’s a lot of individual effort that goes into perfecting these shots.”
After Barnard’s death last year, his family donated Clearing Storm to the Stout Foundation. It was agreed to display the photo in the library. To avoid rapid depreciation, the photo will be behind ultraviolet-blocking museum glass and under ultraviolet-filtered lights.
The photograph is not only a valuable piece of art but also a symbolic ode to the university’s legacy as well.
“His visit was only a couple days and wasn’t that well known, but it is a big part of Stout’s history,” said Hatfield. “The photo allows us to relive a part of the past where someone internationally known came to work with our students.”
Find more out about the photo and the event by visiting the Stout Archives Facebook page.