“Southern Windows": A Photography Exhibit Presenting the Work of Father J. Behrens
The Center for Catholic Studies and the Walsh Gallery are proud to present a window gallery photography exhibition, entitled “Southern Windows”. The exhibition features the photography of Seton Hall alumnus Father James Behrens. The exhibition was organized by Monseigneur Richard Liddy, who brought it to the attention of Jeanne Brasile, Director of the Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University.
Father James Behrens
The exhibition is, as Jeanne Brasile described it, “a thoughtful look into the depth of human experience and the photographer... demonstrates a profound connection with the people that are the subjects of his photographs. “
Father Behrens was born in Brooklyn in 1948 but spent most of his formative years in Montclair, New Jersey. His mom and dad - Margaret and Remick Behrens, raised the seven Behrens kids in Montclair. Behrens attended Immaculate Conception Grammar School and Essex Catholic High School. He graduated from Seton Hall University in 1970. Father Behrens entered Immaculate Conception Seminary when it was in Darlington, New Jersey and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Newark in 1974. After serving as a parish priest in the Archdiocese for twenty years, his life took a change of direction when he entered the Cistercian Order (Trappists) at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, where he is presently. He made final or solemn vows in May of 2005.
Below is the artists’ statement regarding the exhibition:
“People often tell me that my writing has a lot to do with finding God
in the ordinary. I am not really conscious of that, but I have heard it
so often that there must be some truth to it. People seem to see in me
what I do not see all that readily.
About the Center for Catholic Studies
I have a feeling that my photography moves along the same lines. Over
the years, I have been fortunate enough to do some traveling. I have
never been that far from my camera. I like taking pictures of people in
their most at home or ordinary settings. Those photographs grow on me
over time. It is as if I did not see something all that clearly when I
took the picture. It is only after months, or even years, that the
photograph evolves a kind of language, a communication. It is wordless,
and maybe all the more powerful for that.
I have been here at the Trappist monastery in Georgia for seventeen
years. When I came here, I set aside my cameras but after a year or two,
got back to taking pictures. I have been fortunate in that I have had a
few excursions outside the monastery. I have been asked to go to the
circus several times - I was asked to say Mass for the circus
performers. I brought my camera and had a great time. During Mass, I
told the performers all about the joy they brought to me and to
thousands of people, day in and day out. It was a real pleasure for me
to take their pictures - some of which are exhibited here.
I never went to school for photography. I bought my first camera in
college and have been taking pictures ever since. I believe that the
only way God comes to us is through life itself. God is everywhere and
in everyone - big and small, proud and humble. If you have your camera
at just the right moment, you can catch a glimmer of God. It may be in a
smile, a look of wonder or sadness, a face deep in thought, a crying
child, man or woman. Every day there are beautiful scenes conveyed to us
through the people all around us. I try the best I can to catch just a
small piece of this vast wonder we call life.
I am grateful to Monsignor Liddy for making this small exhibit possible. I am grateful to Seton Hall University - my alma mater - for welcoming
my photographs. And I am grateful to you for taking the time to gaze at
Seton Hall University’s Center for Catholic Studies is dedicated to fostering a dialogue between the Catholic intellectual tradition and all areas of study and contemporary culture. To that end, it sponsors an undergraduate degree program for students, focusing on interdisciplinary studies, with opportunities for community, service, scholarship and foreign study. The Center is the home of the G.K. Chesterton Institute, the Bernard J. Lonergan Institute and the Micah Institute for Business and Economics, and their publications. The Center offers study and research, as well as an ongoing program on faith and culture, social justice, business and the economy, for audiences world-wide. For more information, visit the Center's website.
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