The art world labels Jerry Uelsmann a "post-visualization" photographer.
But to Ansel Adams, he's "God's eighth wonder."
"God created the world in seven days, but on the eighth day, he saw that some things needed moving around, so he created Jerry Uelsmann," joked the legendary photographer.
But the description fits because that's what Uelsmann does — moves things around to create his photographs.
His photos tell stories that don't necessarily come to a conclusion. They also are a painfully honest chronicle of Uelsmann's life brought together in the LSU Museum of Art's exhibit, "Confluence by Jerry Uelsmann."
The show runs through Oct. 14 and coincides with the exhibit, "Jerry Uelsmann: Now (Recent Work)," running through Oct. 30 at A Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans.
Uelsmann traveled from his Gainesville, Florida, home to speak before a packed house Thursday in the museum's Turner Gallery, where he told the story of his friendship with Adams, who, he admits, didn't like his work.
His memory of the eighth wonder comment was validated, he recalled, in a letter he rediscovered.
"He started it out with 'Dear Eighth Day Wonder,'" said the 84-year-old photographer to the crowd's laughter.
Through his talk and slide presentation, Uelsmann told his story. The happiness, sadness, exhilaration, pain and his love of dogs — all reflected in images from the past embedded in new ones.
Along the way, he also talked about his process, explaining how he creates his work the old-fashioned way. He shoots film and develops it in his darkroom, where he has seven enlargers. Nothing is done digitally.
Many of the images in the LSU Museum of Art's show were inspired by his unlikely friendship with Moa Petersen, a European art history scholar who lives in Sweden.
Petersen contacted Uelsmann shortly after his wife left him. Uelsmann said his heart was broken and he was lonely. His friendship with Petersen turned his work in a different direction.
Petersen was writing about photography and emailed Uelsmann with questions about his work. He eventually invited her to stay a few days in his Florida home so she could see his work and talk face-to-face.
Petersen's acceptance of Uelsmann's invitation resulted in a true friendship and a chapter of photographs that evoked a new conversation, which is where the exhibit's title, "Confluence," originates.
The show explores the natural flow of Uelsmann’s and Petersen’s intellectual friendship. It also deals with personal themes touching on the nature of love and loss, inner strength and self-love.
Uelsmann assembled the prints using multiple negatives, and, as Adams described it, "moving things around."
No single negative is printed alone. Uelsmann compiles his negatives to tell different stories — his stories.
'Confluence by Jerry Uelsmann'
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Through Oct. 14.
WHERE: LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St.
ADMISSION/INFO: $5, ages 13 and older; free for 12 and younger, museum members and university students with ID. (225) 389-7200 or lsumoa.org
NEW ORLEANS: 'Jerry Uelsmann: Now (Recent Work),' A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Through Oct. 30. Free admission. (504) 568-1313 or agallery.com