Books, music, art, theater, film, and dance

Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park , By Tod Papageorge '62

T.D. Thornton '90
Lois Kelly '77
Elise Juska '97G
Also of Note:
Timothy Hillmer '91G
Carl Vancelette '68
Allen Lessels '76
Michael T. Fournier '99
Don Silva '57, '65G, professor emeritus, Thompson School
Elizabeth Kirschner '79G

Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park
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Photographer Tod Papageorge's defining moment as an artist happened when he was a senior at UNH. "I was flipping through some art guides and saw Henri Cartier-Bresson's photographs," he recalls, "and my life changed. It was like being struck by lightning."

Tod Papageorge '62

Papageorge has vivid memories of UNH as a place of discovery, where several influential people lit his way. "English teacher Joe McElroy was the first person to suggest that I might be gifted intellectually, and John O'Reilly, who taught art history, was a mentor in conveying what it meant to pursue an artist's life," he says.

He studied poetry with English professor Tom Williams, who encouraged his passion for writing, but Cartier-Bresson's street photography--candid shots of people in public spaces--captivated Papageorge and wouldn't let go. He took a technical photography course at UNH, and after graduating developed his craft by walking the streets, taking photo after photo, first in Europe and then in New York City. There, he formed friendships with important photographers like Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz and John Szarkowski, who was the curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art.

book cover

Papageorge's new book, Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park (Steidl 2007), demonstrates his love for what he calls the "poetic image." The 105 photos included in the collection were taken from 1966-1992 and are mostly of people sitting on benches, reclining in the grass, and gathering. Papageorge's talent lies in his ability to capture a gesture, a pose or a juxtaposition of unrelated elements that suggests a relationship, and therefore, a story (or at least a comment): four men in stone-colored trench coats meander aimlessly, while at their feet, a group of pigeons do the same; a thin, barefoot man lies crumpled in the grass while some girls jump rope nearby; a young woman sunbathes in a bikini, her white skin luminous, and gestures to a white-haired, elderly woman resting in a wheelchair in the shade.

Since 1979, Papageorge has been the Walker Evans Professor of Photography at Yale University, where he also directs the graduate program in photography, and his aesthetic has influenced many of the strongest American photographers practicing today.

"Good photography transforms the world into a different thing," he explains, "just as putting words together to make a poem creates something new." ~

Anne Downey '95G, a freelance writer who lives in Eliot, Maine, received her Ph.D. in English from UNH.