Peter McCollough

Peter Rock Exhibit Featured at Bend Library

Twenty years ago, Portland author Peter Rock was working as a security guard in an art museum. While patrolling the five floors, Rock would entertain himself by making up a story for each painting, photograph and object on display.
“Guards weren’t allowed to write on the job so when I got to the breakroom in the basement, I’d write down as much as I could remember then work more on the stories at home,” said Rock. The exercise and experience of pairing stories with art led Rock to collaborate with photographers and to create the exhibit Spells, which will be on display thru June 26 and sponsored by the Friends of the Bend Library Art Committee. Rock will visit Bend on May 15 for a multi-media presentation of the exhibit and reading from his latest novel, Klickitat.
The genesis for Spells occurred when Rock found himself in conversation with a photographer. “Some of the difficult artistic questions he asked caused me to reflect on where I was with my work and where I’d been,” said Rock. “I was reminded of some of the pleasures and play that I was in danger of forgetting.”
While telling the photographer about his furtive scribbling on duty at the museum, Rock began to envision a similar project.
“I found photographers whose work I was drawn to and contacted them with a very hypothetical and tentative description of what I was doing,” said Rock.“Somewhat arbitrarily, I decided that five photographers would be a good number, and I was gratified that the first five I contacted were excited to join me.”
Rock asked each photographer to send 20-30 images. “I chose five photographs at a time and proceeded incrementally, generating the specific stories as I went,” he said. “The images came first then I excavated the stories.” Audio files of Rock’s stories were recorded and can be accessed via any smart phone while viewing the prints on display.
Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His novels include Klickitat, a Young Adult novel released in April 2016, The Shelter Cycle, My Abandonment, The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves, This Is the Place, and a story collection, The Unsettling. Rock attended Deep Springs College, received a bachelors of arts in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. He has taught fiction at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Deep Springs College and in the masters of fine arts program at San Francisco State University. The recipient a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Alex Award and others, he currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where he is a professor in the English Department of Reed College.
Rock received a fellowship in 2014 from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to continue work on this project. Spells is supported by a Creative Heights Grant from the Oregon Community Foundation., 541-312-1032

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