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Unexpected Perspectives

Black and white photograph of swirling fluid-like pattern with high contrast of light and dark.

Black and white photograph of swirling fluid-like pattern with high contrast of light and dark.

October 1, 2020 - June 12, 2021 (Virtual Exhibition)

September 29, 2021 - June 10, 2022 (In-person Exhibition)

As the year 2020 approached, many of us turned our attention to notions of clarity, 20/20 vision, and hindsight. The seed of this exhibition, however, sought to focus on “vision” a little differently: Utilizing works from the de Saisset Museum’s permanent collection, specifically the Focus Gallery Collection, Helen Johnston Bequest, this exhibition intended to examine works of photography that defy clarity through abstracted compositions and subjects, and to celebrate the visionary woman (Helen Johnston) who saw the potential in these artists and the medium of photography. While the resulting virtual exhibition still does this, it is also now impacted by and seen through the lens of the COVID-19. The exhibition is no longer set against a backdrop of clarity. Rather, feelings of ambiguity, uncertainty, and lack of focus are all too common right now. And rather than a physical installation in our galleries, the exhibition is reimagined and presented as a series of slideshows and short videos released throughout the fall that allow for reflection on specific works. 
These works require us to take time with them, to actively look and decipher. The photographs do not allow us to quickly look and comprehend. Some compositions tease us in their abstractions of objects and materials to a degree that renders the subject almost incomprehensible. Other pieces focus or divert our attention through unusual cropping choices. In a few images, photographic processes alter what we see versus what we imagine must be reality. Unexpected discoveries abound in the world around us. We can find beauty and mystery in the lines of peeling paint or cracked earth. Joy and whimsy may reside in the curvature of a heating duct. And through this exhibition, perhaps we can gain a moment of peace with the collective pause we are all being asked to practice.
Oct 1, 2020

Brett Weston

Discussion of four works by artist Brett Weston ranging over three decades.

Helen Johnston

Focus Gallery

Learn more about the founding of Focus Gallery.

Gallery Hours

Please review our current schedule and COVID protocols before visitng the museum.

Submit your unexpected photographs

Active students, faculty, and staff of Santa Clara University are invited to submit their photographs to be included in a slideshow in the musuem's Auditorium Annex in conjuction with the exhibition Unexpected Perspectives.


Submission form.