fbpx High Contrast | Phillips Exeter Academy

High Contrast

High Contrast:
The Charcoal Works of Gordon D. Chase '66

September 15 – December 31, 2020
Virtual Exhibition

“Black and white together on a page create stunning visual contrasts. Whether through highly expressive gesture or subtle gradation of tone, the richness of charcoal images resonates emotionally and powerfully. And they suit perfectly the intent of the artist, Gordon D. Chase, in his examinations and interrogations of human behavior. 

As an art medium, charcoal is as old as the earliest cave drawings. Its resilience has kept it a favored way to make art over the centuries. The expressive imagery of our featured artist is rife with human drama – here in this virtual exhibition that offers but a small sampling of his talent, and later in 2021 when he has a colorful retrospective exhibition at the Lamont Gallery. Chase elegantly combines action and emotion in his work, inciting us to consider our own relationships to topics of social justice, identity both personal and shared, and notions of ‘the Other’ in his cautionary tales.

In the following representative examples, we find explorations into warfare, politics, personal responsibility (or lack thereof), environmental implications, and even investigations into the nature of evil itself, however we may define it.  Big topics for any artist, any person, and in this case one of our own, Gordon D. Chase, PEA Class of 1966.

As a student, Chase went on to Yale after four years at Exeter, and, fortunately for us, he saved many of the artworks he created at both institutions. Several of these will be included in his Lamont Gallery exhibition in 2021. They will provide rich multi-media counterpoint to the dynamic monochromatic imagery featured in this focused introduction to his work.

Stay tuned to this website as, in early October, we’ll be adding an additional suite of his works in conjunction with his upcoming artist talk, via Zoom, on October 15. This will include other charcoal works, and feature additional imagery dealing with ‘the nuclear question’ and also work referencing climate change. In November, the High Contrast series will feature a third installment exploring his personal artistic odyssey, from PEA to a successful career as artist, art teacher, and coach for 50 years!”


Wes LaFountain ‘69
Guest Curator


Use the pause/play button on the slideshow to view the works at your own pace. View the full screen version of the slideshow.
You can also view these works in PDF form here.


"Each moment of human interaction, whether simple and intimate, or catastrophic or miraculous, puts our belief in the sacredness of life to the test."

~ Gordon D. Chase

Artist Talk

Thursday, October 15, 3:00-4:00pm

Join Gordon D. Chase for this virtual artist talk about his works. Details on our events page….

Go to the page titled Artist Talk

Artist Interview

Learn more about Chase and his process.

Interview coming soon!

Lamont Gallery Fall 2020 Visitor Policy

To keep our students, employees, and members of the general public safe and healthy, Phillips Exeter Academy has decided that public visitors will not be allowed in campus buildings at this time. Please see our Visit page for more details.

Lamont Gallery programs are supported in part by the Michael C. Rockefeller ’56 Visiting Artists Fund.