Peter L. Schmunk

Photographs 2010-2020

A retrospective of the photographer’s creative interests and projects over the past ten years, this exhibition explores the different forms a photograph may take and the ways that photographic images may communicate meaning. Document, vignette, souvenir, ephemeral record, visual poem, abstract sign—the images exhibited here play one or more of these roles. Schmunk’s earliest efforts in photography were primarily dedicated to the subject of landscape, especially wild places, which he viewed from both panoramic and close-up perspectives. He continues to create images of that kind, as seen here in his photographs of Looking Glass Rock in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina, all part of an extended project to document that site in comprehensive detail.

Since 2010, Schmunk has developed a strong interest in the ephemera of signage, graffiti, and advertising, especially as found in layered, timeworn condition in urban and industrial sites. His close viewing and tight framing of these subjects is highly selective and often results in images of purely abstract character. The seemingly insignificant marks they contain, however, often suggest meaning through allusion and metaphor. Schmunk has employed strategies of juxtaposition, combination, the addition of words in collaboration with poet Deno Trakas, and, most recently, the inclusion of elements of painting and drawing to augment the content of minimalist or wholly abstract photographic subjects. He seeks to link such images to music, the history of art, the experience of place, and other domains of memory.

For technical, critical, and personal support, the photographer wishes to thank Mark Olencki, Dave Whisnant, G.R. Davis, and, especially, Gail Schmunk. A more extensive inventory of his photographic images may be found on his website at