Bernstein gallery; Photo credit: © Nic Lehoux

Bernstein Gallery

Hours & Information

The gallery is located in Robertson Hall’s Bernstein Lobby, which memorializes Marver Bernstein, the School’s first dean, and his wife, Sheva.

The gallery is free and open to the public. Hours during the academic year are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Benny Merris, An Other Another 196, 2022
Benny Merris, An Other Another 196, 2022. Archival pigment print and custom frame. Courtesy the artist. https://bennymerris.com 

Benny Merris: Know Love Protect

On view through February 9, 2023

How might abstraction help us understand ourselves in relation to the natural world? How does our ability to represent the world around us determine what we value enough to protect? These are some of the questions posed by Benny Merris’s ongoing series An Other Another, which brings the artist’s abstract paintings into dialogue with the environment.

To create the An Other Another works, Merris paints and then photographs his forearm in varied, often remote, landscapes. Each painting is unique and exists only for the duration of a roving photo session before it is washed away. During these sessions, Merris climbs, crawls, swims, and stretches his body to find points of connection between the painting on his arm and the environment. The resulting photographs, always taken at arm’s length, frame fleeting moments of interaction, juxtaposition, and camouflage. While Merris’s work is grounded in painting-as-process and in histories of abstraction, An Other Another is also a powerful meditation on the scale of our human impact on the landscape.

For this exhibition, which coincides with ten years of An Other Another in action, Merris animates the gallery space with site-specific wall paintings in his characteristically exuberant color palette, created in relation to the selection of recent photographs on view. Through a 

constellation of archival materials drawn from local archives as well as the artist’s personal collection, Merris connects An Other Another to the explorer, conservationist, and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Cousteau’s little-known efforts to conserve a Vermont waterway. The guiding ethos of the Cousteau Society’s conservation work—"Know Love Protect”—lends the exhibition its title and offers a model for the transformative potential of image-making.

Biography

Benny Merris is a New York-based artist from Boise, Idaho. Merris has had solo exhibitions at Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn; Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson; Nina Johnson, Miami; Battat Contemporary, Montreal; Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam; Glasgow Project Room, Glasgow; and Kunsthal Rotterdam. He was a member of the inaugural Paint School cohort run by Shandaken Projects in New York City. He received a BA from the University of Massachusetts Boston and an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art. He has been artist-in-residence at Casa de los Artistas, Costa Rica; Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity; Denniston Hill; and the Offshore Artist Residency.

Exhibition Credits 

Curated by Kristin Poor
Texts by Kristin Poor & Alhena Katsof
Graphic Design by LJ McNerney
Special thanks to Bob Linck, Gary Moore, and the Connecticut River Conservancy

Benny Merris, An Other Another 211, 2022. Archival pigment print and custom frame.
Benny Merris, An Other Another 211, 2022. Archival pigment print and custom frame. Courtesy the artist. https://bennymerris.com

Benny Merris: Know Love Protect

Opening Reception and Gallery Talk

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 4:30–6:30pm

Past Exhibitions

Image credit: Barron Bixler, Jawbone Siphon, Los Angeles Aqueduct, Freemont Watershed, 2016.
Image credit: Barron Bixler, Jawbone Siphon, Los Angeles Aqueduct, Fremont Watershed, 2016. barronbixler.com

Barron Bixler: Watershed

On view through October 18, 2022

How can we wrap our imaginations around the ecological—and increasingly existential—problem of water in California? This question drives Barron Bixler’s long-range photographic project Watershed: A Speculative Atlas of California, which draws on seven years of research and field work, and is presented here in excerpted form. Set against a backdrop of ongoing drought in the American West and the spiraling social-environmental impacts of climate change, Watershed surveys the California water system in its multiple natural and engineered forms.

The physical and political landscapes of California have been shaped by a fundamental problem of hydrology: most of the state’s water falls in the far north where most of its people and economic centers are not. Overriding the natural order—through systems that control and redirect the flow of water across watersheds—has allowed cities to bloom where they outstrip local resources, and agricultural empires to be built on shifting desert sands.

Places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the San Joaquin Valley—where a quarter of the nation’s and much of the world’s produce is grown—would not exist as they do today without the 13 trillion gallons of water that is shunted around California every year. This is a quantity of water so vast it could drown most of the landmass of Florida, or transform Oklahoma into an inland sea.

Most of the system that makes all of this possible is, by design, anonymous, efficient, and tucked out of sight, passing through remote landscapes or hidden underground. Bixler’s stunning photographs not only make this vast system visible, but also offer an invitation to look at what’s been built, to consider what’s been lost along the way, and to speculate on the uncertain future of water in California.

Biography

Barron Bixler is a social-environmental documentary photographer, writer, and designer. Set out in stark, unflinching images, Bixler’s photographic work explores marginal landscapes and marginalized communities, vernacular architecture, and built environments. He is a founding member of the Los Angeles-based arts collective Project 51, which was awarded a major grant by ArtPlace America for its project Play the LA River. His photographs have been exhibited at the Fresno Art Museum, Fresno; the University of California, Santa Barbara; 18 Reasons Gallery, San Francisco; and the University of Oregon, Eugene. Bixler lives in Princeton, NJ, and holds an appointment as Art and Media Specialist at Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute. A self-taught photographer, he holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Victoria.

Barron Bixler: Watershed
Image credit: Barron Bixler, Shasta Dam, Sacramento River, Shasta Dam Watershed, 2019. barronbixler.com

 

Wesaam Al-Badry: Essential Work
Image credit: Wesaam Al-Badry, End of the Shift # III, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco and New York.

Wesaam Al-Badry: Essential Work

March 14–May 25, 2022

Since April 2020, Wesaam Al-Badry has documented the lives of essential agricultural workers and their families in California’s Central Valley and Salinas Valley. These areas represent the fertile heart of California agriculture, where farmworkers harvest over a third of the vegetables and 40% of the fruit and nuts grown in the United States. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of these farming communities already hard-hit by housing shortages, food insecurity, unsafe working conditions, and the threat of deportation. Critical to feeding the country, California farmworkers were designated essential workers by Governor Newsom in March 2020. At least half—some advocates estimate up to 75%—of the state’s more than 400,000 farmworkers are undocumented. Despite facing high risks of contracting the virus while working, farmworkers without legal immigration status are excluded from federal pandemic relief, paid sick leave, and unemployment programs.

Al-Badry’s photographs reveal the “real people with hopes and fears” behind the fresh fruits and vegetables on our tables. During some forty visits over the past two years and in hours of recorded interviews, Al-Badry developed ongoing relationships with the people he met, visiting them at home, in their communities, and at work in California’s fields, orchards, and nut processing plants. This exhibition includes excerpts of audio interviews as well as ambient soundscapes from the fields. Together, the photographs and recordings convey resilience, empathy, and human dignity, three qualities the artist aims to foreground in all of his work.

Biography

Wesaam Al-Badry (b. 1984, Nasiriyah, Iraq) is an investigative, multimedia journalist and interdisciplinary artist working with themes related to refugees, labor, migration, war, and technology. His approach to photography is informed by his own childhood experience as a refugee. Al-Badry and his family fled the war in Iraq in 1991 and, after four and a half years in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia, were eventually relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska. He has worked for global media outlets, including CNN and Al-Jazeera America. Photographs from this ongoing project have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and The Nation. Al-Badry received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, and a Master of Journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley.


 

Photograph by Keisha Scarville.
Image credit: African American family tree showing celebration of life events. Image requested by Keith. Photograph by Keisha Scarville. Courtesy of Photo Requests from Solitary.

Photo Requests from Solitary: What Would Someone in Solitary Confinement Want to See?

January 10–March 9, 2022

Photo Requests from Solitary invites people in solitary confinement to request a photograph of anything at all, real or imagined, and then finds volunteers to make the images. The resulting photos are an archive of the interests, memories, and daily thoughts of people who live in extreme isolation.

The project has worked with incarcerated people and volunteer artists in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. More than 200 requests and sample photos can be found on the project’s website, and anyone can fulfill a request at photorequestsfromsolitary.org.

Solitary confinement is the practice of isolating people in prison from human contact. Individuals in solitary rarely leave their cells, except to shower or exercise alone, usually in a concrete pen or a cage. Food is pushed through a slot in the cell door. There are no communal activities. Phone calls and visits are prohibited or severely restricted. This isolation and sensory deprivation can cause severe psychological and neurological damage, and solitary confinement is widely considered to be a form of torture.

The United States currently holds at least 80,000 people in solitary confinement, although there is no evidence that it makes prisons safer. People of color, young people, and people with mental illness are especially likely to be held in solitary. They are placed there solely on the authority of prison officials. More information on solitary confinement can be found at solitarywatch.org.


 

Column placement during construction of Robertson Hall

Robertson Hall lobby interior view

Exterior view of Robertson Hall

Image credits: (left) Robertson Hall; Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series, AC111, Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library; (center) © Nic Lehoux; (right) Alan Chimacoff, Robertson, Fisher-Bendheim, Stimson Halls, 2020. www.chimacoff.com

“Speak to all people in dignity and beauty”: A History of Robertson Hall, 1961–2021

September 20–January 7, 2022

This exhibition surveys the history of Robertson Hall, home of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, from the building’s commission in 1961 to its reopening in fall 2021 following an extensive renovation.

Robertson Hall was conceived as the centerpiece of an ambitious expansion of the School’s curriculum and mission, made possible by a generous $35 million gift in 1961 from Charles S. Robertson (’26) and Marie H. Robertson. Completed in 1965, the building was designed by Japanese-American architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986), who is best known as the architect of the former World Trade Center. The recent renovation by KPMB Architects, Toronto, respects the original character of this architectural icon while keeping an eye on the future, prioritizing environmental sustainability and expanding the flexibility of its redesigned spaces.

The exhibition includes materials drawn from the Princeton University Archives, as well as photographs by architectural photographers Balthazar Korab, Nic Lehoux, and Alan Chimacoff.

Robertson Hall

Image credit: Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, Robertson Hall, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, c. 1975. Photograph by Balthazar Korab © Estate of Balthazar Korab.

 

Past Events


Header image credit: © Nic Lehoux