Skip to main content

Photography exhibit explores anxious array of technology

Large photographs in a rich color palette evoking classic 17th century Dutch still-life paintings offer an exploration into modern-day obsessions with technological gadgets in “Tech Vanitas,” on display in The Gallery at Penn College Oct. 21 through Nov. 23.

The solo exhibition of Jeanette May’s beautifully designed images includes a reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, with an artist’s talk at 5:30 p.m., in the gallery on the third floor of the Madigan Library at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

“Fiber Optics,” archival pigment print, 40 inches by 60 inches.
“Fiber Optics,” archival pigment print, 40 inches by 60 inches.

“Beyond causing viewers to think about the past and questioning what the future will hold, Jeanette May’s large-scale photographs elevate the status of previously mundane objects with their color and sharpness,” said Penny Griffin Lutz, gallery director.

“Tech Vanitas” addresses the contemporary tension between the desire for technology and the anxiety surrounding technological obsolescence. In an age filled with devices that make domestic life faster, easier and more complicated, consumers choose from an astounding array of tech products, and the more consumers yearn to keep current, the more objects are produced, consumed and discarded. What was once cutting-edge technology soon becomes outdated, embarrassing, collectible or forgotten.

May’s carefully disheveled compositions of stylish objects allude to historical paintings, product photography and advertising imagery. The artist aims to honor beautiful design while also stacking products in assemblages meant to stir anxiety in the viewer. Juxtaposing old and new gadgets, her works suggest the passing of time and inspire nostalgia.

Another of May's creations: "Red Phone," archival pigment print, 33 inches by 22 inches.
Another of May’s creations: “Red Phone,” archival pigment print, 33 inches by 22 inches.

May teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York City and lives in Brooklyn. She received her Master of Fine Arts in photography from California Institute of the Arts and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has received numerous grants and fellowships, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Illinois Arts Council, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, and Ms. Foundation. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including in China, Greece and Spain.

Works from “Tech Vanitas” were exhibited in the Bryant Park subway station in New York City from January 2020 to May 2021. May’s image series recently won top honors in the professional still life and abstractions category at the 14th  annual Julia Margaret Cameron Awards.

“Tech Vanitas” is the second exhibit in The Gallery at Penn College’s 2021-22 season. Serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the community, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

The Gallery at Penn College is open 2 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. (The gallery is closed on Saturdays.) Prior to visiting, guests should view the college’s Continuity of Operations page for current guidelines related to the pandemic.

Admission to the gallery is free and open to the public.

For more about The Gallery at Penn College, send email or call 570-320-2445.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.

Subscribe to PCToday Daily Email