Posted August 02, 2010 in Member News
Joe Deal passed away Friday, June 18, 2010 in Providence, Rhode Island following an eight year battle against bladder cancer. Over the course of a 40-year career, he developed one of the signature bodies of work in American post-war photography, breaking with the romantic tradition of Ansel Adams to document, with scientific detachment, a Western landscape reshaped by human hands. Born in Topeka, Kansas in 1947, Deal studied graphic design at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving into photography. By the early 1970s he was exhibiting at the Light Gallery in Manhattan. He received a master's degree in photography from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1974. After returning to Eastman House, he began teaching at the University of California, Riverside, while completing a thesis for his master of fine arts degree, granted in 1978, from the University of New Mexico. At Riverside, he started the photography program and helped found the California Museum of Photography (now the University of California, Riverside/California Museum of Photography).In 1989 Mr. Deal was appointed dean of the school of art at Washington University in St. Louis. In 1999 he became the provost of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he also taught photography. He lived in Providence for the rest of his life. Deal emerged as a leading figure in the new wave of American photographers when 18 of his black and white photographs were included in the enormously influential exhibition "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape"in 1975. In addition to having his work included in the original exhibition, Deal was a crucial advisor to curator William Jenkins in conceiving of the show and also contributed to the exhibition and catalogue designs in his capacity as Director of Exhibitions at George Eastman House.