Richard Gray

Professor Emeritus, Photography

Richard Gray



Richard Gray is Associate Professor of Photography and chair of the Department of Art, Art History & Design at the University of Notre Dame. He teaches critically focused courses in portraiture, photo technologies, video and contemporary photographic issues. Gray has served as a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and is a former Chair of the National Board of Directors for the Society for Photographic Education (SPE), Cleveland, OH. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally (Canada, Germany, China) for over 30 years. His work is in the collections of the Princeton University Art Museum; McIntosh Gallery, University of Western Ontario; Photographic Archives, Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville; Technical University of Dresden, Dresden Germany; Museu Nacional de Arte Moderna, Porto, Portugal; Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, among others.

Research Interests

Richard Gray’s artistic investigations use industrial and scientific image-capture technologies to explore new ways of considering the genre and role of the photographic portrait. Photographic techniques have been utilized in scientific and industrial research since its invention, primarily to capture phenomena or record details. Our expanding definitions of art allow us to consider these image technologies, as not only trusted conveyors of information, but also as complex provocateurs that have redefined our understanding of what it means to be photographed.

Gray’s work in this area began in 1999, with an interest in the profound impact the newly announce Human Genome Project would have on the future of human identity including photography’s inextricable, albeit naive link to the notion of “what we look like, is who we are.” Gray is particularly interested in human typologies and their indexical relationship to visual systems. Owing to British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow’s call for a Third Culture, Gray’s artwork incorporates microscopic or thermal infrared images of the body, to explore dialectic relationships between the visible and the sub-visible.

Humans have long contemplated the notion that life’s real secrets reside within the sub-visible. In the series Human Factors (1999-2008), Gray photographed human cells with a microscope and combined those images with figures posed in a variety of athletic positions. They make reference to the fragile relationship between youth, prowess, and biological mortality. There are references to 19th century framing conventions, early motion studies or physiognomy research, further emphasizing photography’s historical connections to human examination. In the more recent series 98.6, Gray uses a thermal imaging camera in total darkness to record the phenomenon of body heat, revealing unseen levels of physical intimacy and detail not available with unaided sight. Portraiture is in part, an examination of the self, and this work presents an examination of another order.


M.F.A., Rochester Institute of Technology


306 Riley Hall of Art
Notre Dame, IN 46556

ph: 574.631.7452

Selected Works