The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Michael Swartz photo, on view at the Derryfield Lyceum Gallery through Oct. 10.

Derryfield photography exhibit

The work is on view at the Lyceum Gallery at the Derryfield School, 2108 River Road, Manchester, now through Oct. 10. There’s an opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Visit, where you’ll also find information about other upcoming anniversary events. 

Golden anniversary
Derryfield celebration starts with photography show

By Kelly Sennott

 The Derryfield School celebrates its 50th birthday with a conglomerate of events all year long, open to both alumni and the public.

One happens this Thursday, Sept. 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. — a reception for Derryfield School alumni Ira Chaplain and Michael Swartz’s photography show, on view now through Oct. 10. 
The birthday is significant, said Jennifer Melkonian, who chairs the anniversary committee, because of what a presence the school has been in the state, not just for its academic programming but also for its rich history of arts programming and educators, starting with Bob Eshoo, who was also well known for his work at the Currier Museum Art Center.
In addition to a couple of extra art exhibitions at Derryfield’s Lyceum gallery, there will be alumni speakers returning to campus to explain what their experience was like at the school and how that forged a path for them later on. 
This year’s fall drama production is Peter Pan, which was performed at least once every decade of the school’s existence.
In all, the celebrations will actually last two years; while Derryfield was technically founded in 1964 by 39 families in the Manchester community, the first school year didn’t start till a year later, when staff were hired and began teaching. 
Chaplain’s parents, Phil and Sylvia Chaplain, were among those founders. As such, he was there that first year, one of the youngest students in the 7th grade. Their classes took place in the Boys & Girls Club, and it was here that Chaplain began experimenting with his father’s Minolta SRT 101, shooting images around the school in black and white. 
Chaplain has been abroad for past 27 years now. After studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, he lived in Sweden for two years, then in Thailand for five, then Hong Kong since 1994. He’s only just returned to live in the States permanently.
The photos decorating the gallery are some of the same large-scale prints seen in his book, Kowloon: Unknown Territory. They consist of street images from Kowloon, an emerging slum-turned-urban city in Hong Kong, and contain downtown shopping centers, intricate buildings, construction works and folks going about their day-to-day activities. Taking photos of people in downtown urban areas is Chaplain’s preferred method. There’s something about his nature that enables him to mesh with his surroundings.
“I can blend in fairly well. … I think I have an easygoing, approachable manner. I don’t get a lot of hostility or instant major reactions. That’s been one of the things that allowed me to do the photography I do for so long,” Chaplain said. “People have a tendency to let me in or, at least, not push me away.”
The other artist featured in the exhibit is Swartz, a younger alum who’s been exploring new avenues and subjects during his few years since college at Emmanuel in Boston. He’s had some success already, with shows in New York, Boston and Providence.
One of his inspirations is Andy Warhol. He admires how Warhol’s work tells a story, how it says something about our society, our culture. Swartz says his own work might not be everyone’s cup of tea — maybe even a bit in-your-face at times — but he likes that it makes a statement.
Swartz says Derryfield has influenced his work. His first trip to see New York City art was with his Manchester class. A few months ago, when he became uncertain about where his art was heading, he called high school art teacher, Andy Moerlein. He wanted to talk to someone who wouldn’t judge, who would just tell him whether he was on the right track.
“I called him out of the blue and said, ‘I need your opinion.’ I brought my work in and he loved it. … I had a close relationship with Andy Moerlein. … He kind of let me run wild, do my own thing,” Swartz said.
As seen in the September 18, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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