Best Bets: Newark photographer featured in Biggs' 'Out of the Vault' exhibit

By Craig Horleman
Posted 5/28/21

For one of its current exhibits, the Biggs Museum of American Art has dug deep in the archives.

“Out of the Vault: Modern and Contemporary Art” is an evolution of the Biggs through a …

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Best Bets: Newark photographer featured in Biggs' 'Out of the Vault' exhibit


For one of its current exhibits, the Biggs Museum of American Art has dug deep in the archives.

“Out of the Vault: Modern and Contemporary Art” is an evolution of the Biggs through a reinstallation of the museum’s entire third-floor galleries to feature rarely exhibited paintings, photographs, sculpture and crafts from the Post World War I period to the contemporary arts of the present day.

Much of this work has been added to the collection in the past 10 years, but has rarely been shared with the public until now.

One such artist featured in the display is Newark fine arts photographer Elisabeth Bard.

Ms. Bard, who indeed considers herself an artist who just happens to use a camera, was born in West Virginia but moved to Delaware as a teenager when her father took a job with DuPont.

Ms. Bard studied fine art and photography at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, and worked as a graphic artist with 20-plus years experience. She returned full-time to photography during the 1990s and makes this the main focus of her creative endeavors.

“A lot of the art venues claim that photography is a craft and not an art form. But it’s always been an art form. It will always be an art form although the iPhones are doing their damnedest to kill it,” she said.

Her piece, “Val d’Orcia November,” shot in the Tuscany region of Italy, is one of the pieces in the Biggs exhibit that will be on display at the Dover museum until June 19.

Ms. Bard is no stranger to the Biggs as her four-photo set was in an exhibit called “Visualizing the Museum” in 2019.

The Biggs invited the artist critique group exhibition club, ArtLane, to study the museum as a subject of their photographic art work and to each create a distinct series of images that reflect their own artistic points of view.

She put her own spin on different parts of the museum. That is a key hallmark of her work, photographing familiar objects and places and adding her own artistic flourishes to them.

Her piece now on display, is one example of that.

“I always try and challenge the viewer. Tuscany is the be all, end all for me. The piece that’s in the Biggs is the landscape. The landscape of the outdoors is some of the most sensuous landscape I have ever seen. It just rolls in. It’s quite hilly. One gal where I stayed a lot said it’s a man-made landscape,” Ms. Bard said.

“These fields have been farmed so all the plowing and tilling, and harvesting has formed the shapes of the hills and the colors. It’s a horribly heavy clay soil. It’s very fertile and they tell you not to walk out in it and they mean it. You’ll ruin your shoes.”

Her work has not only taken her to Italy but Japan as well.

“It’s lovely but it’s schizophrenic. It’s a strange mix of old and new. I had gotten in touch with a guide who escorted photographers around to different places in Kyoto. He said, ‘Everybody comes to Japan with one idea in their head in that’s not what Japan is.’ It’s very layered. The Japanese keep everything. When you deal with traveling, it’s very superficial. It’s just the way their society is,” she said.

Motion is a big part of her work and one of the things she is most interested in.

“I’m always trying to capture time in a still image. It has always been something I’ve always worked on one way or another,” she said.

The advent of digital photography is a big help in that way, she said.

“Particularly with doing motion shots because you can see it immediately. I feel like I’m painting with light on the sensor so it helps me to be able to see it. Because if it’s not working, then I have to try something else. Sometimes, what I’m trying to capture just doesn’t happen and you move on,” she said.

She says she has no real answers when it comes to how she creates her art.

If people ask me, ‘Well how do you do that? I use the same equipment you do and my pieces don’t come out like that.’ And I have no idea. I just know whether it’s motion or whatever I do, or still, if it starts to look like a piece of art, that’s what I like and a lot of times it just comes out that way,” she said.

“So, I don’t know exactly what I do but it’s probably a combination of exposure and shutter speed. It’s just how my brain works with this highly difficult piece of technology in my hands.”

Growing up, she was interested in art and music. She still plays different instruments but realized that music just wasn’t for her.

“You really have to be able to put your whole self out there on stage and I could never quite just let go. Music is still very important to me. And periodically I get out my instruments and muck around a bit,” she said.

Ms. Bard found an admiration for photography while studying for her fine arts degree.

“I absolutely loved it. But back in the late 60s, early 70s, it was still very much a guys’ thing, it was a guys’ profession,” she said.

“There were a few women there. There have always been women who have done things like that but it was much more of a guys’ thing and I just said I want to do something else. I wanted to paint. Well, it didn’t turn out that way. I picked up a camera again and after I’d raised a family and moved on in several things, I fell in love all over again,” she said.

Ms. Bard will be selling her pieces at Saturday’s Delaware By Hand Members Day Outdoor Show on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Delaware by Hand, which represents the artist membership at the Biggs, will kick off the unofficial start to summer by showcasing fine and decorative arts available for purchase at Zwaanendael Park in Lewes. Nearly 30 professional artists from the group will display wood, metal, glass, ceramics, photography, fiber, sculpture, baskets, prints, jewelry, paintings and more for sale.

Admission is free.

For more information on Ms. Bard, visit

There will be an “Out of the Vault” virtual tour and discussion via Zoom scheduled for Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. Members are free, nonmembers $5.

The Biggs Museum is at 406 Federal St. and is open Wednesday through Saturday.

For more information on the exhibits and the Delaware By Hand show, visit here or call 302-674-2111.

Strawberry Festival

The Delaware Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee will host its 11th annual Strawberry Festival at Bobola Farm & Florist Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Along with a U-Pick strawberry patch, this family-friendly event features agricultural-related vendors and several antique tractors on display. Wristbands for children will be available for $5 each to allow for unlimited time in the Fun Zone. Live music will be provided by Captain Mike.

The Strawberry Festival helps the committee raise funds for the YF&R scholarships given out every year during the annual Antique Tractor Pull event at the Delaware State Fair.

Bobola Farm & Florist is at 5268 Forrest Ave., in Dover.

Horsehoe Crab Festival

The Milton Chamber of Commerce will hold the 2021 Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Milton. The bulk of the festival takes place in downtown Milton and festivals of past have provided a shuttle bus to take attendees to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge to further enjoy outdoor activities.

This year however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the entirety of the festival will take place in downtown Milton and the festival itself will serve as a fundraiser for the Friends of Prime Hook, a 501c3 volunteer organization whose primary purpose is to assist the Refuge staff in many areas, such as public awareness, education and maintenance.

Memorial Park Playground is open once again. To avoid overcrowding in the park, festival activities and vendors will be located on the Milton Historical Society lot; a short walking distance from the Milton Playground. Many restaurants throughout town will be open and ready to serve with nature-related deals and drinks. Educational activities for kids will include crafts and displays provided by Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, the Dupont Nature Center, Brandywine Zoo, the University of Delaware-Delaware Sea Grant, Quest Kayaks and more.

For more information, visit here.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the horror sequel “A Quiet Place II” and Disney’s “Cruella.”