"Elegant Corrosion" Photography Exhibit to Open at Steamtown NHS

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Date: June 5, 2012
Contact: Mark Brennan, 570-340-5244

SCRANTON, Pa - Corrosion is the trace of history across the face of its artifacts. Decades of rain, dew, and oxygen against the steel and iron giants dotting the Steamtown NHS rail yards have left their marks on the behemoths in the form of rust, stains, and peeling paint. Some see these marks as scars, degrading the mighty engines and hefty cars to useless relics; effacements that prove their obsolescence. Others look closer and find beauty in the corrosion.

Photographer Colin Winterbottom is among those who find fascination in the rust. Steamtown NHS is pleased to host his photo exhibit, titled "Elegant Corrosion," at its Changing Exhibits Gallery from July 1 through October 31; the exhibit is included in the Park's daily Entrance Fee. Using macro-photography camera lenses, Mr. Winterbottom has enlarged the smallest details in the decay to the point of abstraction. Isolating the textures, patterns, shapes, lines and colors from the wider context of the rail yard, the photographs take on a very different quality. The viewer's mind often tries to create context for the images, a process that is as engaging as the photos themselves.

"People often see these images as topographical satellite photos," Mr. Winterbottom notes. "Or some [images] may look like flesh or leather, or are just total mysteries.  What I've come to appreciate in sharing these photos with people is that there are a limited number of shapes and patterns in nature, so the path [that] years of rainwater will travel as they run down the sides of a rail car are uncannily similar to the path a river cuts across a landscape."

Based in Washington D.C., Mr. Winterbottom has built a strong reputation for his black and white studies, and has applied the same vision to his photographs of New York, more limited studies of Paris and Moscow, and a series featuring other areas of the U.S. He has been awarded several fellowship grants from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. Winterbottom's work has been profiled in the Washington, D.C. press, has been reproduced for illustrations in many trade publications, and is listed in a number of private and corporate collections. Additional information about Mr. Winterbottom is available at www.colinwinterbottom.com.

"My primary motivation as a photographer is to convey dramatic and lively textures in my subjects," Mr. Winterbottom explains. "In my photos of urban landscapes, I shoot entirely in black and white because I find color can distract for textures. When I first started shooting this series at Steamtown I was shooting in black and white, but found there was something missing from the photographs.  I learned that when it comes to rust and corrosion, color is integral to the textures rather than distracting. So you could say I came to Scranton to discover color."

Restoration specialists will be working to strip decades of rust and decay from the Park's collection of rail engines and cars to renew their historic grandeur. So it is perhaps a bit ironic that the park takes this moment to celebrate the unexpected elegance in corrosion even as they battle it. Beauty is -- as they say -- wherever you seek it.

The popular "Scranton Limited" short train rides will also operate, covering a 3-mile round trip that crosses the Lackawanna River and passes the historic Radisson at Lackawanna Station Hotel.  Near the University of Scranton, the train begins its return to the roundhouse. Many topics are covered during the interpretive train programs, which last about 30 minutes. The "Scranton Limited" train departure will operate with a historic diesel locomotive on Wednesdays and Thursdays and with a historic steam locomotive on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 and 2:15 p.m. Tickets to ride this train cost $5.00 per person, all ages 6 and older, in addition to the daily Park Entrance Fee. Admission to the Park's museums, theater and walking tours is included in the Entrance Fee, which is $7.00 daily for all ages 16 and older; children ages 15 and younger are free with accompanying adults.  For a unique view of the operations and the railroad yard, each departure of the "Scranton Limited" will allow one rider in the locomotive cab for $35.00. Cab rides are available only to adults ages 16 and older, are in addition to the daily Park Entrance Fee, and are not handicap accessible. Turntable demonstrations and interpretive walking tours are also available on most days. The monthly train ride and tour schedule is available online and updated weekly at www.nps.gov/stea - click on "Scheduled Tours."

Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. -  5:00 p.m. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the main entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). Additional general park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours, or by visiting the Park website at www.nps.gov/stea anytime!

- Digital images for media purposes are available upon request. -


- NPS -

Image titled, "Eggplant leaves and bolt" from "Elegant Corrosion" photo exhibit at Steamtown NHS through October 31, 2012
Image from "Elegant Corrosion" photo exhibit on display at Steamtown NHS through October 31, 2012.

Colin Winterbottom

Image from "Elegant Corrosion" photo exhibit on display at Steamtown NHS through October 31, 2012
Image from "Elegant Corrosion" photo exhibit on display at Steamtown NHS through October 31, 2012.

Colin Winterbottom

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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