Portraits and Words Capture the Essence of ‘Colleagues’ at RIT

Groundbreaking digital printing technology used to print book’s black-and-white photographs




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Enter the eyes of women and men
stilled for a moment
their chatter suspended
joy and grief contained.

—Anne C. Coon, RIT Professor Emeritus

Faces can be highly revealing in front of the camera lens—a reflective gaze into the person and the personality behind it.

Using groundbreaking advances in printing technology and a bold approach to graphic design, the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press at Rochester Institute of Technology presents Colleagues, a visually stunning collection of portraits by John Retallack with a companion poem, “Enter the Eyes,” by Anne C. Coon. A book signing and reception will be held at RIT from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27, in Sunken Gallery on the second floor of The Wallace Center.

Colleagues is an interplay of black-and-white images and words. The book is introduced by a conversation between Retallack and Coon, and challenges the viewer’s understanding of the art, aesthetic and dynamics of portraiture. While Retallack’s photographs reveal his subjects at rest, at play and in unguarded moments, Coon’s poem reflects metaphorically the transformation that takes place when those accustomed to lecturing and performing are caught by the camera’s lens.

The “models” for the 89 images in the book are familiar faces on the RIT campus—Roger Remington, Zerbe Sodervick, Frank Cost, Julia Galloway, Bill DuBois, Alan Singer, Dane Gordon, Patti LaChance, Susan Lakin and RIT President Bill Destler, to name a few.

“I was surrounded on campus by people who I knew by reputation but never had the opportunity to meet, and when they came to the studio for their portrait an interesting relationship would develop,” says Retallack, a “photographer of the people” and retired assistant professor who taught photography classes for 27 years in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.

“When you look at one of my portraits, the person seems to be himself or herself,” Retallack explains. “Someone who knows the person would recognize that expression or side of their personality. That happens when light comes together with the person’s expression and attitude. I’d say that’s the unique quality of my photographs; light coming together with the person.”

Retallack and Coon have collaborated on several works combining photography and poetry. Coon is professor emeritus in the College of Liberal Arts at RIT.

With this publication, RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press continues its exploration of digital printing technologies. The technical objective was to reproduce black-and-white images using the printer’s standard inkset of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, with twin goals of neutrality and stability. Nitin Sampat, a professor in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, directed the research and experimentation into the subtleties of color reproduction on the HP Indigo digital press at RIT’s Printing Applications Lab. Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. donated its Superfine premium paper for this book.

Colleagues is available for purchase for $29.95 at http://carypress.rit.edu or by calling RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Press at 585-475-6766.

Note: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press and its new imprint, RIT Press, are scholarly publishing enterprises at Rochester Institute of Technology. The Press is associated with the Melbert B. Cary Jr. Graphic Arts Collection, one of the country’s premier libraries on the history and practice of printing.

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