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Artist, Professor Emeritus Camp Talks Art as Change

Noted Philadelphia photographer and Ursinus professor emeritus Donald E. Camp presented a talk about art as an instrument of change and, specifically, of his own art on display at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art during the college’s MLK Week celebration.

Camp spoke about how the social issues help to inform his own creative process. The talk, throughout which the theme “Things Change” was thread, addressed the inspiration, technique and history of photography as art. Quoting many well-known figures from Aristotle to Rep. John Lewis and comedian George Carlin, Camp stressed the importance of art as change producing.

“I wanted to be an artist and change the world,” he said, explaining that seeing a terrible image of 14-year-old Emmet Till, lynched in Mississippi in 1955, was the moment that changed his life and that made him aware that photography can be a powerful agent of change.

Camp quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and described him as an artist whose medium was words. “Dr. King understood and used language as an art form,” Camp said.

Describing his transition from photojournalist to artist, Camp explained the difference in the photographs and prints themselves. Being an artist, he said, means “making something that you have to take the time to look at.” Art to him, he said, “is like a love letter. I am sharing with you what I love.”

Three of Camp’s works are part of the Berman Museum’s permanent collection: William Larson, Self and Mentee/Jennifer Perry will be on view through March 1. Berman Museum exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public. —By Monique Kelly