Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 7
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
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Photo Exhibit at Campus’s Murray-Dodge Building Responds to the Question “What Is Love?”

Ellen Gilbert

“What is This Thing Called Love?” wondered the incomparable composer-lyricist Cole Porter in a 1929 song. The Princeton University curators of the newest exhibit in the Murray-Dodge lobby on the campus have cut to the quick by simply asking “What is Love?”, and although Valentine’s Day was on Monday, it’s not too late to take in the engaging images submitted by University students, faculty, and staff members in response to that question.

“What Is Love?” is the latest in an annual series of exhibitions of photographs by Princeton community members who were asked to submit images addressing concepts such as sacredness, family, peace, and hope. Exhibit curators included associate deans of religious life Paul Raushenbush and Deborah Blanks, dean of religious life and the chapel Alison Boden; vice president for campus life Cynthia Cherrey; Habin Chung, a junior who is executive editor for photography at The Daily Princetonian student newspaper; Makeba Clay, director of the University’s Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding; Thomas Dunne, associate dean of undergraduate students; Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, senior lecturer in sociology; and Demetrius Oliver, lecturer in visual arts and Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts.

While the 31 images that were selected from almost 150 submissions can be viewed online at, like any other art, they are best observed up close and personal. The fact that they are housed in a warm, welcoming venue, outfitted with cushy chairs and sofas, wireless internet access, and a station for making your own hot beverage on a chilly winter day adds to the appeal of walking over to Murray-Dodge, just a brief way into the campus past Firestone Library.

Three winning images that were given special commendation by the exhibition’s curators include “The Secret Ingredient,” a photo by junior Stephanie “Q” Miceli of her grandmother’s hands as she prepares to bake bread; “Eternal, Unforgettable,” sophomore Sofia Quinodoz’s photo of a banner depicting the faces of missing loved ones in Honduras; and “Welcome,” showing the arrival of a new baby to a family in the Brazilian state of Bahia, photographed by Jennifer Cabral-Pierce, a digital imaging technician for the Princeton University Library.

Images of loving fathers and their daughters, a picture of a baby contentedly sleeping in the crook of its mother’s arm, a newly-married couple kissing before taking off on a motorcycle, and a well-carved tree trunk humorously called “Texting in the Previous Millennium” are guaranteed smile-inducers. An older couple holding hands as they walk single-file on a narrow byway, and a shadowy black-and-white photograph of the arches of a building, may evoke more solemn thoughts on love. 

The exhibition will be remain view in Murray-Dodge until Wednesday, November 30.

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