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An Alchemist’s Light: Photographic Images by Ben Hauser
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An Alchemist’s Light: Photographic Images by Ben Hauser

Notre Dame College’s Clara Fritzsche Library will host “An Alchemist’s Light,” an exhibit of color darkroom experiments by photographer Ben Hauser from Dec. 1 to Dec. 21. The exhibit will open with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1.

For Hauser, the darkroom process is a means of creating an image rather than a series of steps by which one develops a traditional photograph. The pieces in this recent body of work with their delicate swirls of color resemble glimpses of the cosmos and possess the qualities of an abstract painting.

A native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Hauser developed his passion for photography at University School. During his senior year, he received a Strnad Fellowship, awarded to talented underclassmen to recognize creative inquiry and provide unique educational experiences through the pursuit of advanced independent projects of research well beyond the high school level. This funding allowed Hauser to carry out his senior project titled “Photography in Hale County, Alabama: Following in the Footsteps of Walker Evans and William Christenberry.”

In the 1960s, noted photographer Christenberry had photographed some of the same subjects as a previous famous photographer, Walker Evans, who had documented people and communities in Alabama hit hard by the Depression. Hauser wanted to replicate his journey and record the change of these familiar sites over time. After a series of correspondences, Hauser met with Christenberry, who was so impressed with the young photographer’s work that they talked for four hours.

In 2003, Hauser attended the School of Art at Ohio University, where he placed a particular emphasis on composition and the standards of traditional color darkroom printing. He received a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award to produce his senior thesis, a project he called “Mulenburg County.” For this project, Hauser incorporated lyrics from John Prine’s song “Paradise” to help create a rust-belt allegory and to inform the somber, nostalgic tone of the imagery. Working with color film in a variety of formats, he photographed a series of vacant sites along the Ohio River.

"An Alchemist's Light" by Brian Hauser
"An Alchemist's Light" by Brian Hauser

After receiving his B.F.A., Hauser returned to Cleveland and began to photograph abandoned industrial machines at night using 35mm color film and long exposures. This experimental vision led to his “Spiritual Industrial” project, a radical departure from his previous treatment of the industrial subject matter.

Hauser’s work evolved conceptually with his invention of the Enigma-Graph, a photographic printing process that produced unforeseen, one-of-a-kind results. His work has continued to evolve with the portfolios “Quicksilver” and, most recently, “An Alchemist’s Light.”

Hauser has displayed his work locally, at Ohio University, in Columbus and New York City as well as internationally in India. He is currently a graduate student at John Carroll University and recently received an internship from the Department of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Hauser’s exhibit will be free and open to the public and may be viewed during library hours: Mondays to Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 1 to 10 p.m.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information about the exhibit and library holiday hours after Dec. 17, contact Karen Zoller, director of the Clara Fritzsche Library, at 216.373.5267 or kzoller@ndc.edu