Chris FaustHistoric and contemporary photographs of the Upper Mississippi river opens Friday, September 6th in the main floor gallery of the Cultural Center.  Historic and contemporary views of the Upper Mississippi River will be featured in the exhibit “Revisiting Twain’s Mississippi.”  The show includes 30 contemporary black and white silver gelatin prints shown paired with cyanotypes of the same views by 19th-Century photographer Henry Peter Bosse.

This exhibit will be open at no cost to visitors in the gallery of the Cultural Center in New York Mills from September 6th through Saturday, October 26th.  A reception and lecture on the exhibit is Saturday, September 7th at 7:00pm.  Everyone is invited to attend this free show.   The show is sponsored by Viking Library System and the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators; presented in collaboration with Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography and the Cultural Center in New York Mills.  This project is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

All are invited to the opening reception on Saturday, 7 September, from 7:00-9:00 pm.  Photographer Chris Faust will be honored at the event and will make a presentation at 7:30.  During the run of the exhibit, the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center will host a free concert by Charlie Maguire featuring songs inspired by the Mississippi River and the state of Minnesota, and a documentary film about the river:  “Twilight of the Mississippi” on Friday, October 25th at 7:30 pm.  The concert will be held on Friday, 18 October, at 7:30 pm and is sponsored by Viking Library System.  Both the exhibit and the concert were funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

The Mississippi River has special significance to New York Mills.  The town is uniquely situated on the cusp of the continental divide, where waters drain south via the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico or north to the Hudson Bay.  A monument situated on the divide describes the geological and political forces that have shaped New York Mills as a result of its location.

In the years 1882-1892, Henry Peter Bosse (1844-1903) travelled the Upper Mississippi River Valley, as a member of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, while engaged in a serious and historic undertaking as a photographer. Bosse’s photographs helped him create the most accurate map of the upper Mississippi to date, which made the design of bridges, locks and levees possible. Bosse’s photographs are more than map signposts or design aids; they are clearly made in a reflective manner suggesting he was aware of the landscape painting tradition and fully appreciative of the beauty in his viewfinder.

Ultimately, Bosse published Views on the Mississippi River between Minneapolis, Minn and St. Louis, Mo. 1883-1891 in 1893. This handsome volume contained large format cyanotypes, printed using an oval mask, each titled by Bosse in hand-written ink. Bosse’s work was shown at the historic World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, a turning point in the history of photography, to great critical success and much fanfare.

Some 100 years later, Bosse’s navigational maps in hand, St. Paul native Chris Faust has been carefully re-photographing the same views as Bosse, from exactly the same sites, aided by modern GPS coordinates and the help of the Army Corps navigational maps. Faust, a biologist by training and an explorer by nature, has by hard work and serendipity, found the means to re-photograph the Mississippi River from the vantage points Bosse made his historic and justly famous Views on the Mississippi River.

Today, Bosse’s cyanotypes are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, SFMoMA, the Getty Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to name a few.  Ultimately, Faust’s images yield no further scientific information, but by framing the familiar in novel ways, they make for a revelatory experience.

Beyond their evident beauty, these are uncommonly astute studies of the intersection of nature and culture – the natural landscape and the manmade environment. Today this achievement is celebrated in the forthcoming Revisiting Twain’s Mississippi: New Photographs by Chris Faust, an exhibition of 30 contemporary black and white silver gelatin prints, shown paired with Bosse cyanotypes of the same views. These cyanotypes have been produced with state of the art digital printing techniques.

Chris Faust is a prolific landscape photographer who lives in St.  Paul, Minnesota. He earned a BA in biology and a MS in Educational Media from St. Cloud State University starting out his career working in Aquatic Biology as an Aquatic Toxicologist. Faust began his photography career as a Medical Photographer and continued working as a technical photographer and graphic artist at the University of Minnesota.

Faust is best known for his panoramic landscape photographs. From 1990-1996 he created a series of black-and-white images of new suburban developments in Minnesota that depict new structures and spaces not fully-formed or inhabited by people. A frequent theme in these and other photographs is the intersection of human beings with nature and places where the two interact in provocative ways.