Story posted September 05, 2007
Acclaimed artist Abelardo Morell '71 finds himself on the other side of a camera's lens in Shadow of the House, a documentary about Morell's work and experience as an artist. The film, by Allie Humenuk, is being shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass.
The Cuban-born Morell is known for his original camera obscura photography. Camera obscura is Latin for "dark room." A pinhole opening in the wall of a dark room will cause an image of whatever is in the light outside the room to be projected upside down and reversed on the interior walls.
Filmmaker Allie Humenuk followed Morell for seven years. Humenuk says she set out to uncover the mystery and method of his artistic process, the role of family in his life and the impact of his background as a Cuban refugee. "I first learned about Abe Morell in 1991, when I stumbled into one of his lectures. I remember he said something like, 'It is amazing how a good picture can make me want to get up in the morning.' That resonated for me."
Bo Smith, director of the Museum of Fine Arts Film Program, describes it as an intimate film. "Candid glimpses and conversations allow the viewer to truly get to know this extraordinary man as an obsessed artist, a husband and a father," says Smith.
"Humenuk gains the photographer's complete trust during her long and often one-on-one shoots, which becomes evident in this unrestrained and honest portrait. We watch as Morell travels to Paris, where he has the vision to create his remarkable camera obscura photographs in his hotel room. And we hear his son and daughter, both talkative and intelligent teens, providing their engaging commentary and criticism. Then we follow Morell on a recent emotional trip to Cuba — the first time he's returned to his native land since fleeing as a teen in 1962. One of the best recent films on an artist and the artistic process."
Morell's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His work has also been featured at dozens of other museums around the U.S. and abroad. Morell has published several collections of his work and has received numerous honors, including Guggenheim and Cintas Fellowships. Morell is currently Professor of Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art.
Shadow of the House was screened at the MFA on Sept. 15, 2007, followed by a question-and-answer period with Humenuk and Morell. Other screenings will be held Sept. 20, 22, 29 and 30.
Bowdoin's visual arts department and the John McKee Fund for Photography are sponsoring a screening of the film on Nov. 7, 2007, at 7 p.m., after which Humenuk and Morell will be on hand to answer questions.