“Spells” Exhibit by Author Peter Rock

Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  4/26/2016

Peter Rock Twenty years ago Portland author Peter Rock was working as a security guard in an art museum. While patrolling the five floors, Rock would entertain himself by making up a story for each painting, photograph and object on display. “Guards weren’t allowed to write on the job so when I got to the breakroom in the basement, I’d write down as much as I could remember then work more on the stories at home,” said Rock. The exercise and experience of pairing stories with art led Rock to collaborate with photographers to create the exhibit “Spells,” which will be on display at the Downtown Bend Library from May 4 – June 26, 2016. Rock will visit Bend on May 15 for multi-media presentation of the exhibit and reading from his latest novel, Klickitat.

The genesis for “Spells” occurred when Rock found himself in conversation with a photographer. “Some of the difficult artistic questions he asked caused me to reflect on where I was with my work and where I'd been,” said Rock. “I was reminded of some of the pleasures and play that I was in danger of forgetting.” While telling the photographer about his furtive scribbling while on duty at the museum Rock began to envision a similar project.

“I found photographers whose work I was drawn to, and contacted them with a very hypothetical and tentative description of what I was doing,” said Rock. “Somewhat arbitrarily, I decided that five photographers would be a good number and I was gratified that the first five I contacted were excited to join me.” Rock asked each photographer to send 20-30 images. “I chose five photographs at a time and proceeded incrementally, generating the specific stories as I went,” he said. “The images came first then I excavated the stories.” Audio files of Rock’s stories were recorded and can be accessed via any smart phone while viewing the prints on display.

Peter Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His novels include Klickitat, a YA novel released in April 2016, The Shelter Cycle, My Abandonment, The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves, This Is the Place, and a story collection, The Unsettling. Rock attended Deep Springs College, received a BA in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. He has taught fiction at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Deep Springs College, and in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Alex Award and others, he currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where he is a Professor in the English Department of Reed College.

Rock received a fellowship in 2014 from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to continue work on this project. “Spells” is also supported by a Creative Heights Grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. Additional support and organization is provided by Blue Sky Gallery. The audio/video components were made possible by the generous in-kind support of Steve Rauner and NORTH.

For more information about this or other library programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 312-1032,

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