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‘Surface Tension’ Explores Divided Landscapes

Dittmar photography exhibition focuses on politically and geographically separated regions

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Visiting artist Terri Warpinski’s spring 2015 photography exhibition bridges border issues and provides a glimpse of lands that either continue to be -- or once were -- politically divided.

“Surface Tension” explores the multiple and conflicted perspectives that complicate three well-known zones that have -- or had -- special restrictions to movement: the Israel-Palestine border, the U.S.-Mexico border and the former Berlin Wall, which once separated communist East Berlin from the free city of West Berlin.

Hosted by Northwestern University’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery, the exhibition opens on April 2 and runs through May 8. The exhibit and an opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, are free and open to the public.

The Dittmar Gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus.

“In ‘Surface Tension,’ two geographies half a world apart, the U.S-Mexico borderland and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are seen in parallel with present day Berlin,” Warpinski says. “Through these photographs I probe varying aspects of power and conflict and the consequences incurred when national desires for security dominate other social or environmental concerns.”

Warpinski’s show features more than 50 color photographs that reflect her deep respect for the natural environment and her interest in the traces of human connections embedded in the landscape. It also incorporates various methods of digital photography and juxtaposes diptychs, triptychs and sequential configurations of singular images.

Most of the series is in the form of multi-image sequences printed together, however, a few remain as individual photographs.

For her “Surface Tension” project, Warpinski used a range of Canon and Sony digital cameras and various iPhones, ranging from the iPhone 2 to the iPhone 5. Many of the framed, wall-mounted photographs are large-scale pieces printed on archival rag paper.

The Eugene, Oregon, based photographer and educator took the photos along the Israel/Palestine border in 2010 and 2014 and the ones along the U.S./Mexico border in 2009 and 2013. She shot the photos in Berlin in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

“Borders, walls, fences, boundaries, divides, separations, barriers all, in their most primitive stage, are a decision -- a human determination,” Warpinski says. “They first exist in the place of the mind and enter the landscape in that way -- as concept.”

Warpinski invites all visitors to her “Surface Tension” exhibition to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, and to examine how power is established and rationalized.

She travels the world to pursue her creative practice. She is a professor of art at the University of Oregon and was a Fulbright Scholar in Israel in 2000-2001. Her recent awards include an Individual Artist Fellowship (2014) and a Career Opportunity Grant in 2013 from both the Ford Family Foundation and the Oregon Art Commission.

Her work has been shown in more than 125 exhibitions, including the Pingyao International Festival of Photography in China; the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem; Houston International Fotofest; Center for Photography at Woodstock; the University of the Arts Philadelphia; and San Franciso’s Camerawork.

Warpinski teaches university-level coursework and photography workshops based on landscape and environmentally oriented photography. She also has taught special workshops at places including Penland School of Arts and Crafts in North Carolina, in non-traditional photographic techniques, using processes from the 19th century, such as CyanotypeCalotypeWet-Plate Collodion and Salted Paper, and mixed media approaches to photography, as well as collage. For more on Warpinski, visit

The Dittmar Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, contact the Dittmar Gallery at 847-491-2348 or Norris University Center at 847-491-2300, email or visit

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