The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College has placed on view nine works from its collection by renowned photographer, filmmaker and Hampshire College professor Jerome “Jerry” Liebling, who passed away on July 27.
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Liebling studied photography with Walter Rosenblum at Brooklyn College and with Paul Strand as part of the socially minded New York Photo League. The aspiring artist also studied film at The New School for Social Research. In 1949, already established as a pioneering street photographer along with Berenice Abbott and Gordon Parks, Liebling founded one of the country’s first college-level photography and film programs at the University of Minnesota. In 1969, Liebling moved to Amherst and founded the photography and film program at the fledgling Hampshire College, where he remained an inspiring and beloved teacher until his retirement in 1990. His legacies as an artist and educator were immortalized in the dedication of the Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography, and Video at Hampshire College in 2009.
The works on view at the Mead span Liebling’s career, during which he distinguished himself as an astute and sympathetic observer of the world around him. Early photographs that Liebling took in New York and Minnesota in the 1940s and 1950s depict the struggle, vitality and heroism of urban working men and women. After moving to the Pioneer Valley, Liebling likewise photographed the area with sensitivity to the relationship between the place and its inhabitants.
“Jerry’s passing is a tremendous loss to our region and to the American art world,” said the Mead’s Director and Chief Curator Elizabeth E. Barker. “His poignant images of people engaged in their everyday lives not only capture something of the Pioneer Valley’s character but have even helped to shape our regional identity. The Mead is proud to honor his life and art with this display.”
Curated by Andrew W. Mellon Post-baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow Maggie Dethloff, the display is featured in Collins Gallery, where it will remain on view through Oct. 30.
The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the college’s summer intersession, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a complete schedule of the museum’s exhibitions and programs, as well as driving directions and additional information, please visit the museum’s website, www.amherst.edu/mead, or call 413/542-2335.