Artist Beatrix Reinhardt visits MCCC

Visiting artist Beatrix Reinhardt

MCCC was graced this week with an exhibit and talks from international artist-photographer Beatrix Reinhardt.

Reinhart, who was raised in the former East Germany, has travelled the world and her art reflects that experience.

“An artist must get out of the studio,” she says.

 “Travel shakes the senses. Travel rejuvenates and helps overall in making your work. Travel sharpens the senses.”

Reinhardt has studied around the world.

She completed her undergraduate studies at the Freie Univeristat Berlin. Following that, she received her M.A. in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research in New York then got her Master of Fines Arts degree from Illinois State University.

She has been invited to serve as artist-in-residence to universities and galleries worldwide.

Her photographs and art reflect her global experience, as was apparent in her week long exhibit at the library or from her guest lectures.

Her photographs were taken in places from Germany to Siberia, India to Vietnam, China to Australia, just to name some of the places she has worked.

Reinhardt explained how she works to a very attentive lecture audience Wednesday night in the “A” Building.

“I am a dinosaur,’ she said. “I work with analog and not digital. I like the entire process in the darkroom. It allows me to control my art.”

Other technical advice she gave was always use a tri-pod and a shutter release cord. She likes to work in a medium format with 120mm long exposure film.

Reinhardt has developed a personal philosophy, garnered form her years in the field.

“Many say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but I disagree,” Reinhardt said. “Look in their refrigerator! It will tell your more about everyone who lives there.”

That kind of pragmatic outlook has served her well.

Reinhardt loves to photograph object now, although that wasn’t always the case.

At first, she thought they were boring until the realization that things like dishes in a china cabinet, or collectible objects in a house not only contain memories for that person, but also help to establish identity.

“Artists need to be part of the world,” she said.

One of her life long passions came true when she photographed the 550 km segment of the natural gas pipeline, or it was known in the former East Germany, the “friendship pipeline” or Der Drushba-Trasse.

“It is just amazing, the ground looks normal and unless you know about it, you would never guess the object just under your feet,” she said.

The pipeline supplies Europe with most of it natural gas and is a major political and economic issue today.

Another series of photographs on display were some of her private club series photograph.

“My interest in private clubs was sparked by the attitude of the Australians towards these entities. These clubs appeared to be institutions of great social significance within the social landscape.”

“It doesn’t matter if it costs you 25 dollars a year, or 250,000 dollars a year, the effect on people is the same.”

As Reinhardt notes in her list of work statement, “It is a place where the “like” comes together, and the “unlike” stays apart.”

Reinhardt’s art is not only globally inspired, but eclectic in its range of subject matter. There are series of Coca-Cola painted houses from India, battlefields in South Africa, and a series on rural life in mid-western America. Those came from the time she once lived for months in a trailer park in Normal, Illinois.

“Here were seemingly forgotten people,” Reinhardt said, “people called “white trash.” Very poor but yet, so proud to be Americans. Filled with such nationalism. We didn’t have that where I came from. I was fascinated.”

Reinhardt currently resides in New York City and is an associate professor at City University.