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RONALD BEVERLY THE HOWARD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR IS DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF PHOTOGRAPHERS BY LOOKING TO THE

WHEN IT COMES TO PHOTOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES, Ronald Beverly, the head of the photography department at Howard University, is a film purist—except when he isn’t. He grounds his own art—and insists that his students ground theirs—in an understanding of traditional practices, darkroom and all, even if 90 percent of the work he is shooting right now is digital. “I’m always accustomed to the complete loop from beginning to end, from image capture to presentation,” Beverly says. Consider Nature’s Avatar, a series of digital giclées (printed on canvas). Beverly’s Avatars are kaleidoscopic images that look like something Google’s DeepDream program might generate. They scan plainly as landscapes and vaguely as natural: rectilinear mandalas that emphasize form, pattern, and fractal geometry. Obviously, these are digital transformations. But his black-andwhite silver gelatin landscape prints are no less sharp and craggy. The 56-year-old artist found his footing as a photographer while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in design at Howard University. (He later got a master’s in photography at George Washington University.) His first love was music, but his decision to pivot toward the darkroom was a practical one. “The curriculum had us take at least one course in every genre in the arts,” Beverly says, “which meant you had to take a course in painting, a course in ceramics, a course in drawing, a course in sculpture, printmaking, photography. Of all the courses I took, photography was the cleanest genre. I didn’t have to pick clay out of my fingernails, didn’t have to clean brushes.” His students at Howard may view the darkroom as a relic from their parents’ basement or a movie set, says Beverly, but he approaches digital processing and photography in the same way as he does film. “In the digital darkroom, some students usually think I’m going to be the guru, the master of the software, from beginning to end—and I’m not,” he says. “What I do is cherrypick out the essentials of what a photographer needs to understand, and apply it to the imagery.” Beverly is clear with his students that he prizes large-format film photography over digital. “It’s about craftsmanship first, and your meaning and message later.” (Or as he likes to describe the digital-versus-film divide, “The microwave is quicker, but the food doesn’t taste as good.”) He isn’t apologetic about adopting new techniques, though, because his overarching theme remains the same. “My goal,” he says, “is to bring to light what we can’t see.” Beverly’s work will be on display at the MGM National Harbor when it opens this fall. 7100 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, 844-3464664; mgmnationalharbor.com. boxlightstudios.prosite.com

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PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE ARTIST (DETAIL FROM A FOUR-PANEL PORTRAIT SEQUENCE ENTITLED HOOD-EZ). OPPOSITE PAGE: PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE ARTIST (OVER TIME #2; ORBITS; AVATAR SERIES 5); BY TONY J PHOTOGRAPHY (BEVERLY)

ART FORM’S PAST. BY KRISTON CAPPS

Profile for MODERN LUXURY

Capitol File - 2016 - Issue 3 - Summer - Art of the City - Ronald Beverly  

Capitol File - 2016 - Issue 3 - Summer - Art of the City - Ronald Beverly

Capitol File - 2016 - Issue 3 - Summer - Art of the City - Ronald Beverly  

Capitol File - 2016 - Issue 3 - Summer - Art of the City - Ronald Beverly

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