The UNM Art Museum's Distinguished Speaker Series presents "Matter into Spirit," a lecture by Joel Peter Witkin, on Tuesday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Gallery.

Joel Peter-Witkin is best known for his provocative tableaux, which are highly symbolic amalgamations and contemporary versions of the medieval tradition of the momento mori; that is, images that serve to remind the viewer of his or her own mortality.

Witkin's photographs of the hybrid and unusual human form, both whole and fragmented, together with elements of Renaissance and Baroque still life paintings in multi-layered settings, describe his darkly fantastic vision. The aura of the photographs is enhanced by manipulation of the surface to make them appear aged, an act that comments on the nature of the photographic image by calling into question its permanency.

In his teens, Witkin befriended and photographed sideshow performers at Coney Island and won the respect of Edward Steichen, who chose one of his early pictures for inclusion in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Witkin studied at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture, New York (BFA, 1974) and the University of New Mexico, (MFA, 1986).  His work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, including solo shows at The Brooklyn Museum, New York; Interkamera, Prague; Picture Photo Space, Osaka, Japan; Museum of Modern Art, Haifa, Israel; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and a major retrospective at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The Dis­tin­guished Speaker Series is spon­sored by the UNM Art Museum in coop­er­a­tion with the Depart­ment of Art & Art History.

The UNM Art Museum, located in the Cen­ter for the Arts, is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 1–4 p.m. and dur­ing events.