June 10, 2017 at the Penn Museum Jay A. Frogel, PhD: Photographer, World Images; Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus at The Ohio State University; Consultant in Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Space Sciences: "Maya Palaces in Ruins: Stephens’ and Catherwood’s Presentation of the Past"

    The writings of John Lloyd Stephens, illustrated by Frederick Catherwood,  had a profound effect on public awareness and perception of the ancient Maya in the 19th century in the US, Europe, and Mexico.  Why was this and what made their work stand out from the other travelers who illustrated the Maya ruins during that century?  In this presentation Dr. Frogel considered Frederick Catherwood as an artist and visual promoter of the Maya; not only of the ruins of a vanished civilization, but also of the Maya people he and Stephens encountered in the course of their expeditions.  Catherwood’s illustrations are an invaluable guide to the effects of the passage of time on the monuments he drew. Finally, Dr. Frogel suggested that Catherwood should be considered as an “abstract realist” artist, a la Andrew Wyeth, and illustrated his arguments through a discussion of his Stephens and Catherwood Photographic Project.

    Frogel got his BA and PhD degrees in astronomy from Harvard and Caltech, respectively.  He rejoined Harvard as a research Fellow and Lecturer, and then became a tenured staff astronomer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories based in Tucson and in La Serena, Chile.  In 1988, he was appointed Professor of Astronomy at The Ohio State University.  When he left OSU he became Vice President for Science at the DC corporate office of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. 

    Since he stopped earning a living 6 years ago, he has been able to devote much more time to his photographic work. While living in Chile he had two solo exhibits of his Cibachrome prints of the Chilean landscape.  These exhibits were sponsored by the Universidad de Chile and the US embassy in Santiago.  Since 2013 he has had five exhibits of digital prints from his Stephens and Catherwood Project at several locations in the US as well as giving talks on the project. Dr. Frogel’s photography can be seen at:  URL:  http://www.jayfrogel.com.

back to home page