Tools and Shrouds - Stephen Althouse
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
SEPTEMBER 9 – NOVEMBER 8, 2009
FROM THE EARLIEST DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY, the pictorial documentation of the
world around us has held infinite fascination as the subject for photographers. And from the
beginning, the photographic image was as influential as the printed word. Even today, when
we look at a photograph, we tend to “read” the image for its informational content. Stephen
Althouse’s images can be read as metaphors for the interconnectedness of secular and spiritual
life. His images combine the practical and symbolic, weaving a relationship between tools and
textiles as venerated symbols of work and faith. Like medieval devotional relics and honorific
textiles, Althouse’s tools and shrouds become symbols of power and reverence, engaging the
viewer in a dialogue about history, humanity, tradition and spirituality.
Born in Washington DC in 1948, Althouse grew up in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where
he trained as a sculptor. The product of a Quaker education, Althouse received his MFA from
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, and studied sculpture at Tyler School of Art,
Philadelphia. The sculptural tradition of making and manipulating subject matter is carried over
in his photography, and is further explored in these enigmatic and powerful images. For 30
years, Althouse lived in Miami where he was a Professor of Fine Arts at Barry University, before
returning to central Pennsylvania, where he lives and works creatively today.
This exhibition presents Stephen Althouse’s most recent work as well as a series of
powerful images which the artist created in 2003 and 2004 while serving as artist-inresidence
at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Liège, Belgium, through a
Fulbright Research Fellowship.
The Museum is pleased to share this exhibition and publication with a larger audience in
both Canada and Germany. We feel it is important to show Stephen Althouse’s recent work
and to create a scholarly catalogue that amplifies our understanding of his compelling
images. For their very generous support of this publication, we thank Lawrence D. and
Lucienne Lefebvre Glaubinger of The Glaubinger Foundation. We thank Dr. Eugene W.
Metcalf, Jr. and Dr. Mark McPhail for their perceptive essay which constitutes a significant
contribution to this publication. For their presentation of concurrent exhibitions of Stephen
Althouse’s photography, we thank Jacqueline Hébert Stoneberger of Beaux-arts des
Amériques in Montréal, and Werner Ruhnke of Galerie Ruhnke, Potsdam, outside Berlin,
Germany. Lastly, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the Museum’s trustees and donors, who
have demonstrated their commitment to the Museum in their support of the Museum’s
ambitious and internationally-recognized exhibition program.
WENDY M. BLAZIER
Senior Curator, Boca Raton Museum of Art