Modern adventurer and photographer Michael Yamashita steps into legend and history to explore the travels of 13th-century explorer Marco Polo, Chinese Admiral Zheng He's 15th-century voyages and, the Great Wall of China. "Silk Road and The Great Wall" opens September 27, 2007 at Hallmark Museum of Contemporary Photography.
Yamashita's exhibit is a melting pot of modern and ancient worlds captured in vibrant color images from China, Venice, Iran, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The exhibit continues through Sunday, December 16, 2007.
An Artists' Reception, with live music, hors d'oeuvres and book signing will be held at the museum from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, September 29. Extra hours for viewing are offered on this date from 5-7 p.m. An Artist's Talk by Yamashita, with slide presentation, will be held from 7:30-8:45 p.m. in the lecture hall at the Hallmark Institute of Photography Educational Center, Industrial Boulevard, Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.; seating begins at 7:15 p.m. Refreshments and a book signing follow the talk.
Yamashita's images are vivid, and at times mysterious, seeming especially exotic to a western eye. Marco Polo's "Description of the World" served as Yamashita's guide as he traveled the ancient overland China trade route, The Silk Road. The Great Wall in Polo's time was in its beginning stages, only gaining its grand, fortified presence in later centuries. Zheng He's explorations, long forgotten, have only recently been recognized as being extraordinary for their time. Sinuous landscapes, intimate portraits of people, rituals and ways of life dictated by political and geological climes, Yamashita has made accessible places long kept close to their own people. The images stand as testament to this photographer's obsession and openness to the possibility of capturing "the moment."
"Photographers," Yamashita has said, "are paid to be lucky." His luck and timing held as he photographed in Afghanistan, Iran, Iran-Bam, Iraq, before world events such as 9/11 and war again broke out, and forever altered these regions. Yamashita's work is found also in two television documentaries he produced and hosted for National Geographic. And, an international letter-rate stamp bearing Yamashita's Hagatna Bay, Guam image was released in June 2007.
"The Great Wall: From Beginning to End" is slated to coincide with this exhibition. In addition to "Marco Polo: A Photographer's Journey," other books by Yamashita are "Zheng He: Epic Voyages of China's Greatest Explorer," "New York Flying High," "Mekong: A Journey on the Mother of Waters," "In the Japanese Garden," and "Japan: The Soul of a Nation." Yamashita has received awards from the National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year Competition, the New York Art Director's Club, and the Asian-American Journalists' Association. He also lectures and holds workshops nationally and internationally.
When not on assignment he lives in Chester, New Jersey. Hallmark Museum of Contemporary Photography is located at 85 Avenue A, downtown Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Regular museum hours are Thursday through Sunday, 1-5 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.