Ron Jude: 12 Hz
May 26–August 13, 2023

Ron Jude. Calving Glacier Terminus, 2019. Pigment print; 42 1/2 x 56 1/2 in. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Luisotti, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment. © Ron Jude

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 1)—The Frist Art Museum presents Ron Jude: 12 Hz, an exhibition of large-scale black-and-white photographs that defy customary expectations of landscape imagery, revealing the planet’s raw materials and the often-imperceptible forces that shape its appearance. Organized by the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment, the exhibition will be on view in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from May 26 through August 13, 2023. 

In twenty photographs depicting glacial formations, lava flows, tectonic patterns, and tidal currents, Oregon-based photographer Ron Jude (b. 1965) reminds us that geological phenomena operate indifferently to our presence, even in the face of an ecological crisis. The images, stripped bare of evidence of human existence, challenge the myth of human centrality. Neither sentimental, nor moralistic, nor explicitly political, the body of work is a potent visual statement that may offer some solace in documenting the persistence of the physical world. The exhibition’s title, 12 Hz—referencing the lowest threshold of human hearing—alludes to the limits of perception as well as the powerful yet often undetectable forces that shape the physical world.

“Naming photographs after an invisible sonic property may seem counterintuitive, but just as we might strain to isolate a nearly undetectable tone, Jude’s images challenge us to consider other scales of time, motion, and light that exist at the boundaries of our awareness,” writes Toby Jurovics, director of the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment. “Rather than picturing an idyllic wilderness or one comfortably domesticated, Jude explores what lies behind and beneath the landscape—the earth reduced to rock, ice, and lava, free of our imprint.” Landscapes appear in Jude’s earlier work, but in those series, they operate as a setting, rather than the main subject. In this collection, the landscape takes center stage.

Though the photographs were made in Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Iceland, Jude omits the specific locations of each photograph to underscore the universality of the themes in the exhibition. “No matter where you live—be it here in Middle Tennessee or in California—tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, or wildfires can be abrupt, devastating reminders of the extraordinary power of the earth’s systems,” said Frist Art Museum senior curator Katie Delmez. “In surprising and challenging ways, Ron Jude’s photographs lead us to contemplate how our presence and endeavors can directly impact our environment, but at the same time, they are humbling reminders that nature marches on with or without us around.”

Ron Jude. Cataract #3, 2019. Pigment print; 56 1/2 x 42 1/2 in. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Luisotti, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment. © Ron Jude

The first photographs from this series were made in 2017 near Jude’s home in Eugene, Oregon, a Western Cascades region that was configured by water, ice, and lava over millennia. As Jude traveled to California, New Mexico, Iceland, and Hawaii over the next few years, he found new and arresting subjects to include in the series. In Cooled Lava Flow #2 we are confronted with a dark, full-frame image of solidified lava, while in Cataract #3, water cascades over large rock formations, mist billowing into the air placing us uncomfortably close to its brink. Sky illuminates a subterranean pile of fallen rock from a collapsed cave ceiling at the center of a dark cavern in one photograph, while light reflect off crashing waves in another. “Although his prints are visually luxurious, Jude is careful not to sentimentalize the landscape. They can feel inhospitable, and their scale threatening,” writes Jurovics.

12 Hz is accompanied by an audio installation by Joshua Bonnetta, Pressure Plates I & II. Two interacting compositions combine field recordings with manipulated seismic recordings collected from an array of sensors that record vertical ground motion. Both sets of recordings are site-specific to Jude’s photographs and reveal similar imperceptible forces of the earth’s geological systems at work both above and below the surface. Continually repeating on a loop, Bonnetta’s composition weaves in and out, rising and falling from opposite sides of the gallery against the rhythm of Jude’s photographs. The seismic data was generously provided by Leif Karlstrom of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oregon.

About the Artist

Ron Jude was born in Los Angeles in 1965 and raised in rural Idaho. He earned a BFA in studio art from Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, in 1988, and an MFA from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1992. His photographs have been widely exhibited around the world and are held in the permanent collections of the George Eastman Museum; the J. Paul Getty Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. Jude is also the author of twelve books—most recently, 12 Hz (2020). He has received grants or awards from Light Work; San Francisco Camerawork; the Aaron Siskind Foundation; and the Friends of Photography and was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2019. He lives and works in Eugene, Oregon, where he is a professor of art at the University of Oregon.


Friday, May 26                                              
Conversation: Ron Jude with Toby Jurovics
12:00–1:00 p.m.
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery
Free to members; gallery admission required
for not-yet-members

Join artist Ron Jude for an in-gallery conversation with Toby Jurovics about the exhibition 12 Hz.

Exhibition Credit

Ron Jude: 12 Hz was organized by the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment

Supporter Acknowledgment

Lead Sponsor: Blevins, Inc.

Supported in part by Gordon CAP Gallery Fund

With additional support from Friends of Contemporary Art

The Frist Art Museum is supported in part by The Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Ellen Jones Pryor: 615.243.1311,

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