The Department of Visual Arts and the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, in conjunction with the Stephany family, will host a memorial to celebrate the life and achievements of Professor Jaromir Stephany, pioneering visual arts faculty member, on Sunday, June 6, at 2 p.m., in the Library Gallery of the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
A member of the Department of Visual Arts faculty from 1973 until his passing on April 14, 2010, Jerry served as department chair during an early period of the department’s growth. After retiring from his position on the faculty, he continued to teach the department’s History of Photography course until this past fall 2009 semester. Jerry was one of several key visual arts faculty members in the 70’s and 80’s who helped set the tone for the department’s unique approach to teaching art. It was a bold and forward-thinking decision to focus on photography and time-based media at that time, as opposed to the more traditional studio arts, when putting forward the curriculum for an undergraduate program in art. We’re grateful for all the contributions Jerry made to the department in all the years he was a part of our community.
Jerry Stephany was born March 23, 1930 and raised in Rochester, New York. He began making photographs as a youngster during the Depression, and served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War. After military service, he went to school, first to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for an undergraduate degree and then to Indiana University for a graduate degree. His teachers were such luminaries as Minor White, Ansel Adams, and Henry Holmes Smith. During the early 1960s he worked at George Eastman House. After teaching at other institutions, Jerry was lured to UMBC by the prospect of starting a new photography program. He also worked with the Library to found the nationally renowned Photography Collections and the Library Gallery. In an effort to draw more attention to the new Department of Visual Arts photography program, he founded the Mid-Atlantic Region of the nationally important Society for Photographic Education, and held the initial meetings at UMBC.
Over the years, Jerry’s photographs were shown at such prestigious institutions as the George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and UMBC among others. His work has been published in nationally circulating journals such as Popular Photography and Aperture.
An exhibition of Jerry’s work is currently on view in the Library Gallery through June 30.