mike peven: a retrospective
May 3 - July 26, 2019
Reception: Friday, May 3rd from 5-7pm
The famed photographer Aaron Siskind often spoke of the independent nature of photography that allowed the medium to transcend simply being a representation of a depicted image. Rather, he argued, photographs are more akin to other types of visual art that have the potential to exist as both an object and image. This ethos has been at the core of michael peven’s artistic practice since his days at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Throughout his career, peven—the name he often preferred to be called, and the lower-case letters with which he printed his name—pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable within a photograph. Whether he was affixing pins to his photos, stitching into his artist books, adding sordid images to the interiors of matchbooks, or just capturing a banal subject such as a dog, peven was always looking to simultaneously subvert and champion the field of photography.
Known as a tough-yet-supportive professor, peven always cared greatly about his students. Regardless of their interests, peven insisted that each student obtain the fundamental techniques associated with all photographic media. However, once a student had acquired the skills, he would challenge them to up-end what had been learned in hope of finding a unique voice. Throughout his 40-year career at the University of Arkansas, peven cultivated a new generation of photographers that pushed the medium into the 21st-century.
The School of Art at the University of Arkansas is honored to organize michael peven: a retrospective. The exhibition provides a small, selective overview of artwork that highlights popular series throughout peven’s career. The hope is to introduce a new generation of artists to his work, while also celebrating the prolific life of an individual who dedicated himself to championing the arts in Arkansas and beyond.
Maryam Amirvaghefi, co-curator
Rebecca Drolen, co-curator
Open…Heart Surgery, 14 pages, Inkjet prints on enhanced matte paper with waxed lined thread, craft wire, staples and PVA. 7 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.
Food Fest, Type C Print with craft eyes and plastic ants, 11 x 14 in.
Bird’s Bar Mitzvah (detail), Inkjet prints bound in paper boards in a hand-made board slipcase. 48 x 5 3/4 in.
Noble Beast, Inkjet prints on individual sheets of paper mounted on matte paper. 84 x 132 in.
Solarization #7, Type C print. 16 x 20 in.