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Art Exhibit Features Photos People Find Too Hard To Keep

Artist Jason Lazarus preparing for his exhibit, "Out of the Ordinary," at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. (Credit: Pat Loeb)

Artist Jason Lazarus preparing for his exhibit, “Out of the Ordinary,” at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. (Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center opens an unusual exhibit, this week. It features personal photographs donated by people who found them too hard to keep.

“This is a great moment because I usually don’t get too many things of this size,” Jason Lazarus says as he looks at a 30 by 40 inch mounted print. It was dropped off at the Photo Arts Center, to become part of the photographic artist’s “Too Hard to Keep” archive, with these instructions: “This image should be exhibited face down. If you don’t use it or want it, destroy…”

That is the kind of emotion surrounding the photos Lazarus will exhibit, beginning Thursday. In this case, the donor appears to be getting over a bad marriage; two wedding albums go with the print.

Photos from a faded romance inspired artist Jason Lazarus to start his archive. “There are people like me who are kind of caught in this Catch 22 of having documented their lives, then you’re kind of faced with this physical baggage that you’re not sure how to reconcile your relationship (with).”

But, Lazarus says sometimes the donor’s motivation is unclear. He finds those the most interesting, “They’re these almost flash cards of meaning and you stitch them together in ways that you’re trying to figure out the narrative and obviously there aren’t any right answers.”

Curator Chris Gianunzio says he likes the dynamism of the ever-expanding collection. “Every time he shows this it will be different. It’s something that’s constantly adapting itself.”

The archive is part of the Photo Arts exhibit “Out of the Ordinary,” opening Thursday.

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