State of the Axe

Weis Center Lobby
July 24, 2017 – June 22, 2018

In this exhibition, drawn from the collection of the Samek Art Museum, photographer Ralph Gibson offers thirty intimate black-and-white portraits of guitar masters playing their instruments. Focusing his lens on musicians who have lent their unmistakable voices to virtually every musical genre—jazz, funk, rock, acoustic, blues, fusion, classical, and experimental—Gibson reveals in each photograph the intense relationship of the player with his beloved “axe.”

State of the Axe features guitarists across several generations, from early jazz greats to hip modern rockers, as they play their widely varied guitars, including traditional six-strings, double necks, ten-strings, and fretless models. Gibson’s images capture the enduring appeal of the instrument and the intense, often rapturous expressions of those who pick, strum, amp, bottleneck, and bow the axe.

Ralph Gibson, Jeff Parker, 2007. Gelatin Silver Print on Paper. Gift of Claudia and John McIntyre.

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Gallery Locations

The Samek Gallery
3rd Floor, Elaine Langone Center
Bucknell University

The Downtown Gallery
416 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837