Joe Wyatt
Published September 25, 2017

Southern Light Gallery at Amarillo College, which has displayed the work of innovative and upcoming photographers since 1977, will commemorate its 40th anniversary with an exhibit by founder Robert Hirsch, who will make a personal appearance at the College in October.

Southern Light   SmallA portion of The Architecture of Landscape series Hirsch created in the Texas Panhandle in the 1970s and 80s, will be on display from Oct. 2-Nov. 16. The prints are courtesy of CEPA Gallery’s Traveling Exhibition Program (see:

Additionally, the noted New York-based photographer and author, who taught at AC from 1976 to 1991, will be on hand Oct. 26-27 to help the College celebrate the gallery’s milestone anniversary in person.

Hirsch, now director of Light Research in Buffalo, NY, will be the guest of honor at a reception from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at AC’s Southern Light Gallery. The gallery is on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons on the Washington Street Campus.

After the reception, Hirsch will deliver a lecture at 7 p.m. in the nearby College Union Building’s Oak Room. The entire evening’s activities are free and open to the public.

Hirsch also will speak to AC photography students during his stopover – at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27 in Parcells Hall, room 314.


“Our 40th anniversary observance is doubly exciting because Robert Hirsch is coming back to help us mark the occasion,” René West, assistant professor of photography and gallery curator, said. “Robert today is a prominent photographer and well-known writer; the founding of the Southern Light Gallery and his time at AC mark the beginning of his prestigious career.

“We are delighted by his continued enthusiasm for Southern Light Gallery, where so many illustrious artists have exhibited their work these four decades past, all because of Robert’s lasting vision.”

Among the luminaries who have displayed their works at AC over the years are David Levinthal, who received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Foundation for the Arts; Barbara Crane, a distinguished artist at the Art Institute of Chicago; and the late Joe Jachna, who for 30 years taught at the University of Illinois—Chicago.


Hirsch says he established the gallery so that both AC students and the community would have the opportunity to view and discuss contemporary photographs they would otherwise not see on campus.

“Southern Light’s success can be attributed to sticking with its original mission of expanding visual cultural offerings to AC and the public,” Hirsch said. “I am appreciative of all the people, especially Jim Jordan, Brent Cavanaugh, and René West, who have contributed their time and expertise in curating and managing it over the years.

“AC provided me with the opportunity to help build an outstanding progressive photography program plus to write my first book, Exploring Color Photography, which included photographs by many AC photography students,” he said.

It is far from Hirsch’s only published text. Book credits for the longtime educator and historian also include Photographic Possibilities: The Expressive Use of Concepts Ideas, Materials and Processes; Seizing the Light: A Social & Aesthetic History of Photography; Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age; and Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography from 1960 to Now.

Hirsch is a former associate editor for Digital Camera and Photovision, and he has written for Afterimage, History of Photography, The Photo Review, Photo Technique, and World Book Encyclopedia, among others. He has curated over 200 exhibitions, and had many one-person and group shows of his own work.

Of his The Architecture of Landscape series, a portion of which will be on display at Southern Light Gallery, Hirsch says: “By presenting dichotomies, myths, and symbols, these photographic images encourage viewers to contemplate the dynamic relationship between nature and the humanly constructed landscape.”


For his address to AC students on Oct. 27, Hirsch will deliver his “World in a Jar: War & Trauma – An Ethical Tale” presentation. It utilizes the camera, he says, to photographically re-envision our collective societal memory involving loss, popular culture, religion, tragedy, and the nature of evil.


“Utilizing the Holocaust as an historic anchor, the project evolved out of my response to the events of 9/11,” Hirsch said. “My report on the human condition is an open-ended, wordless story that covers such momentous issues as ethnic violence, genocide, racism, religious intolerance, war, and the suffering these behaviors spawn.”


For more information about Hirsch’s visual and written projects, visit: For more about Southern Light’s 40th anniversary, please contact René West at or 806-345-5654.