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Catherine J. Smith Gallery presents “Pattern of Man” by Jeff Whetstone

BOONE—Catherine J. Smith Gallery at Appalachian State University presents “Pattern of Man,” an exhibition of photographs by Jeff Whetstone. “Pattern of Man” is curated by Jody Servon and will be on view through Oct. 11.

View larger imageImage courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery

This is the first exhibition organized by the gallery in the newly renovated Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and during special events. For more information, call 828-262-7338 or visit

The exhibition title “Pattern of Man” is a reference to James Still’s short story “Pattern of a Man.” Whetstone feels akin to how Still documents culture through personal fiction. In addition, the title is a reference to the intricate and dense patterning occurring in our environment – whether manmade or naturally occurring.

Whetstone will discuss his photography and filmmaking Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Belk Library and Information Commons, room 114. A reception for the artist will be held Thursday, Sept. 12, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the gallery. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Pattern of Man” is comprised of 23 large-scale black and white photographs spanning 1992 to 2013. Whetstone has traveled the United States extensively making photographs of nature and human interventions in the landscape. His photography refracts the histories and narratives of Appalachia as well as references his experiences in the landscape.

Images in the exhibition were made in locations including the Appalachian Mountains; Joseph, Utah; Harlan, Ky.; North Platte, Neb.; New York City; and East Haven, Conn.

Whetstone is interested in sharing his complex relationship to the landscape and has remarked, “I have always felt that the mountains are beautiful and foreboding. The tension that I am drawn to portray comes from a sensibility of beauty and fear, a glorious starkness, and a desperate exuberance that fuels Appalachian music and culture.”

Whetstone began making photographs at age 12 and used the camera to record the natural world that surrounded him. During the past 20 years, his imagery has continued to grapple with issues such as masculinity, violence, grace, death and landscapes that are beautiful but not always “scenic.” With the inclusion of numerous large-scale photographs in the exhibition, curator Servon was interested in enveloping viewers with richly detailed images that evoke feelings of awe, anticipation, and, at times, uneasiness. Servon and Whetstone are particularly interested in providing opportunities for viewers to not only look but to sense what it is like to be looked at.

About the artist

Whetstone was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and currently lives in Durham. He is a professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Whetstone received a zoology degree from Duke University and an M.F.A. from Yale University, where he received the Sakier Memorial Prize for Excellence in Photography.

Select projects include producing a book and an exhibition about American migrant workers with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and serving as an artist-in-residence for four years at Appalshop, a media arts cooperative located in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields. At Appalshop he produced “Before the Flood,” a multimedia production that premiered at the National Folk Festival.

Whetstone has received multiple grants and awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and two North Carolina Arts Council Fellowships. Whetstone’s photography, video and films have been exhibited internationally and are included in numerous public and private collections. Reviews of his work have been published in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, New Yorker Magazine, Village Voice, Art News and Time Out among others.