William Frej – Rock Art of the Greater Southwest

 Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs from Bill Frej’s newest book Blurred Boundaries: Perspectives on Rock Art of the Greater Southwest , opening Friday Dec. 29.

The artist will be in attendance for a book signing at the opening reception Friday Dec. 29 from 3 to 7 p.m.

Enigmatic rock art featuring a myriad of symbols and designs can be found throughout remote and arid landscapes of the Greater Southwest, from the Four Corners region of the American West to the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. This vast gallery of ancient art offers intriguing questions. Who created these images on stone and what were their motivations? What do they mean? Are they to be taken literally or might they stand for something else?

In this book, William Frej’s powerful black and white photographs of rock art in the American Southwest and Baja California provide the opportunity to explore this diverse and mysterious imagery—and to ponder these questions. By framing these images on stone by the expansive landscapes in which they are found, his photographs emphasize the importance of their settings.

In the foreword, Frank Graziano also emphasizes how our own beliefs and perceptions influence the way we experience rock art. Rock art is more than a static reminder of the faraway past:  the images continue to impact us even today, no matter what our perspective.

The accompanying photo captions by noted anthropologist, rock art scholar  and artist Polly Schaafsma present clues to the symbolic content of these stone murals.

Her essay, “Blurred Boundaries,” addresses the ambiguities latent in their complex meanings.

To illustrate, Schaafsma addresses several elements of the visual vocabulary of rock art in the region – the spiral, stepped clouds, depictions of the human form, animals, and shields.

Schaafsma notes that rock art can be viewed from many perspectives and she suggests that we move beyond Western philosophy to consider an animistic universe in which all things are sacred.

Concurrent with the Frej exhibition, a group of Schaafsma’s paintings will also be presented.

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About the Artist
(1947)
William Frej is an award-wining photographer and author who began his professional life as an architect. He later served for almost thirty years as a diplomat, living and working in Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan. He also has traveled extensively in the mountain regions of Nepal, India, Pakistan and in Central Asia, as well as throughout Mexico and Guatemala.

Since 1970, always with his camera at his side, he has photographed Indigenous people and their environments. Bill has produced four fine art photography books since 2020: Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler, Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals in Guatemala and Mexico, Travels Across The Roof of the World: A Himalayan Memoir, and now Blurred Boundaries: Perspectives on Rock Art of the Greater Southwest.

His books have won more than forty awards including eight “photography book of the year” awards and a Silver Medal for Travel Books from the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition in 2023.

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