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A Photo Synthesis

In Adam Peiperl’s world, elegant dancers move gracefully among the dramatic Corinthian columns of the National Arboretum and soar majestically above the stairwells of Washington’s art galleries. The striking photomontages of Peiperl, BS ’57, combine the artist’s longtime passions, art and photography.

El Naar Haninah (Jo Elle Johnson) dances among the magnificent Corinthian columns of Washington’s National Arboretum in a photomontage by Adam Peiperl.

For more than three decades, Peiperl has incorporated emerging technology into his artwork. In 1968, he began creating kinetic sculptures by using polarized light, earning him recognition in Who’s Who in American Art. Two years ago, he turned his creative attention to digital photography, combining art with dance photography using the lastest computer techniques.

“My newest work combines two or more different images into a single representation,” says Peiperl, explaining that he separately photographs dancers and then places them via computer into art environments. “When you combine the separate images, something new is created that strikes the viewer. I enjoy presenting my subjects from different, and hopefully novel, vantage points, where the resulting image is more than the sum of its parts. It shows the conceptual freedom of digital photography.”

GW dance alumna Colleen Hooper, BA ’01, with Adam Peiperl’s sculpture, Hole in the Sky.

Peiperl says that it is always a thrill to discover new sites for his compositions. “This past year, I was extremely fortunate to come across the magnificent Corinthian-style U.S. Capitol columns on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum,” he says. “The columns are so stately and they evoke ancient times. By combining the columns with photos of a belly dancer, I have come up with some of my most evocative images.”

Peiperl, who has photographed GW dance students since 1986, donated a number of his photomontages to The Gelman Library’s Special Collections Department. His work was featured this fall in the Special Collections exhibit, Shall We Dance?, which ran until Dec. 21.

—Jamie L. Freedman