"I started going to the library doing what most people do: looking at books," says Phoenix photographer Peter Sills. "One of the things I noticed was the incredible northern light. It started to become my photo studio." Hence the new "Peter Sills: Library Portraits 2009" exhibit. Sills large color prints are straightforward, unpretentious records of the motley mix of literacy junkies who visit Burton Barr Central Library, frozen in moments of peace and purpose in the Will Bruder-designed architectural hothouse.
"From a technical standpoint, I like photographing in natural-light environments," Sills says, but "you start to notice other factors. . . . You realize that the library doesnt have a class-barrier issue; there never were any walls up. While we might seem very guarded to ourselves when we meet each other on the street, the library seems to disarm this." Looking into the calm eyes of Sills' subjects, we relax, too, building an internal sanctuary from the city's stresses.
Aug. 8-Sept. 1, 2009