Strong Light

Air and spacecraft as art.

There are photographers who express in their work aviation's speed and power; others have a knack for revealing the personalities of individual airplanes.  Cheryl Rossum, whose 1967 degrees from Barnard College is in art history and literature, has something different to say.

The photographs in this collection were commissioned by the Northrop Corporation for its 1978 and 1982 annual reports and by the Loral Corporation in 1993.  Although the expression "museum quality" is often used in connection with Rossum's photographs, her pictures have never been exhibited in a gallery or museum.  This we consider a classic case of, if you'll excuse us, underexposure.

"There is a taint in a sense by being a 'commercial' photographer," Rossum says of her relationship with the art world.  As a commercial photographer "you need to be either old or dead to be considered artistic."

Alisa Zamir, design director and executive vice president of the graphic design firm Taylor & Ives, had worked with Rossum on projects for the New York Stock Exchange before hiring her for the Loral Corporation's annual report.  "We already had enough photographs of people in la lab wearing bunny suits," Zamir says of the routine portrayal of aerospace technicians in clean rooms.  She knew she'd get something "intelligent" from Rossum, who hadn't so much as held a camera before her first full-time job--as a photographer's assistant--but had achieved a small degree of fame in 1975 for a stunning treatment of industrial subjects she photographed for the annual report of Combustion Engineering.

Even if you've spent a lifetime studying airplanes or working with aerospace components, we doubt you've seen the in quite the way Cheryl Rossum shows them to you.

--The editors

 Check out Cheryl Rossum's photographs in the gallery at right.

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