Renowned Photographer, Longtime Professor John Pfahl Joins RIT Alumni for Exhibition

Pfahl and 15 of his former students featured in Natura exhibition, opens Feb. 6

Never Cry Wolf—See Ewe from Never Cry Woof!, written and illustrated by Jane Wattenberg ’73.

Renowned color photographer and former Rochester Institute of Technology professor John Pfahl, along with 15 RIT alumni who studied under Pfahl, will be part of a photographic exhibition, Natura, opening next month in Rochester.

Natura will be on view from Feb. 6 to March 22 at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, 137 East Ave.

In addition to Pfahl, the featured photographic artists are Barbara Bosworth (M.F.A. ’84), Marilyn Bridges (B.F.A. ’79, M.F.A. ’81), Dean Chamberlain (B.F.A. and A.A.S. ’77), Grey Crawford (studied with Pfhal in ’74), Alida Fish (M.F.A. ’76), Richard Gray (M.F.A. ’82), Paul Lange (B.F.A. ’74), Silvia Lizama (M.F.A. ’83), Forest McMullin (B.F.A. ’77), Steve Mosch (B.S. ’81, M.F.A. ’83), Judy Natal (M.F.A. ’80), Jeannie Pearce (B.F.A. ’76), Stuart Rome (B.F.A. ’77), Alison Rossiter (studied with Pfahl in ’75) and Jane Wattenberg (M.F.A. ’73).

These artists are among the United States’ most important photo-based practitioners and educators. They continue many of the teachings of Pfahl, most notably the theme of the natural environment and the intervening role of humankind, science and technology.

Pfahl taught at RIT in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences from 1968 to 1985 and left to pursue a photographic career full-time.

“It seems like a lifetime ago that these individuals inhabited my labs and classes,” says Pfahl. “At the time I would have found it amusing to think that I was having much of an influence on them. I do remember always thinking that I had the better end of the bargain, inasmuch as I was learning far more from them than they were from me. It has been such a pleasure to watch these friends develop over the years and their photography blossom.”

Pfahl resides in Buffalo. His archive is housed at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Pfahl’s images are part of numerous public and corporate collections including the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Chicago Art Institute.

Natura is co-curated by Pfahl and Therese Mulligan, RIT administrative chair of photographic arts.

“Pfahl fueled artistic development with an understanding of the decisive role of the artist as an agent of discovery and change,” says Mulligan. “Similarly, he advanced photography as a medium of ideas and revelations. In their turn, Pfahl’s students emerged as exceptional practitioners and educators in their own right. Their work is an important contribution to the persuasive power of the creative image in art and culture, especially when its subject intensely examines the context and content of our surrounding natural world.”

The exhibition is organized in partnership between RIT and the Rochester Contemporary Art Center.


Autumn Lagoon, Braddock Bay, 2007, by John Pfahl

Never Cry Woof—See Ewe from Never Cry Woof!, 2005, Scholastic Press, written and illustrated by Jane Wattenberg


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