THE Question: A Photographic Journey

Exhibit Dates: April 1 until June 12, 2023

2nd Floor Reading Room

The latest work of longtime photographer Larry Parsons dares to ask THE Question, and takes the viewer on a photographic journey in search of the answer. A young boy and his water buffalo constitute our guide through this narrative series, and we follow the questioner as he encounters many different characters and answers. Both the tale and the photographs that narrate it evoke a childlike inquisitiveness that echoes classic storytelling traditions, as Chinese hand-carved wooden figures come to life along with a host of eclectic household objects. Is there an answer to THE Question? Follow along to find out.

Parsons is a longtime businessman as well as an avocational photographer, having worked many years in investment management in the Princeton area. While studying history at Wake Forest as an undergrad, he was taken by the images illustrating historical tales, and his pursuit of photography began in earnest in the 1970s when his parents gave him a camera. While he had no formal training, he was able to study with many master teachers, including Bob Denby, Ricardo Barros, and the late Sally Davidson.

He has contributed to many shows at Gallery 14 in Hopewell, NJ, and has locally exhibited work at Phillips’ Mill, Mercer County College, Nassau Presbyterian Church, The Present Day Club, Princeton Arts Council, and Princeton Public Library. He has taught photography at the Princeton Adult School, Chautauqua Institution, and Grounds For Sculpture.

The story idea for this series came to Parsons almost a year ago, in what his wife Jean recounts  was a brilliant surprise of clarity in the midst of his cognitive decline due to dementia. With the help of many friends and community members, the story has grown into this narrative photography series, for which this is the second exhibition, as well as a children’s book with the story written in both English and Chinese. We hope you will encounter the many voices that contributed to this series as you join in asking – and one day answering – THE Question.Connect on Instagram:


The Art of Calligraphy

Exhibit Dates: April 1-June 15

Technology Center and 2nd Floor

Chinese calligraphy, a form of artful writing, is an ancient and highly respected art form that requires mastery of the brush, the paper (or silk), and the ink in equal measure. The size of the characters as well as the contrast between light and dark and the speed of application of the line all work together to create each unique piece of work. Some scripts are more formal and require the brush to be filled often, placed with care on the page, and to be moved with careful deliberation so as to result in uniform brush strokes. Other scripts are more casual meaning the brush is filled less often and moved with speed and spontaneity. A series of characters for a piece using informal calligraphy can go from dark and wet ink when the brush is newly filled, to light and dry when the brush is nearly empty.

The works in this exhibit created by Michael Shiue represent a wide range of calligraphy styles, including paintings with ink, that are both formal and informal. Shiue, as a master calligrapher, states that one of the things that sets calligraphy apart from many recreational hobbies is that it can be melded with a broad spectrum of cultural arts, such as poetry, literature, and philosophy. He believes that calligraphy is the heart of Chinese culture as it is built upon a person’s entire cultural knowledge. It’s inextricably linked with the art you’ve seen, the literature you’ve read, the music you’ve heard, the philosophies you believe.

Michael Shiue, born and raised in Taiwan, came to the USA in 1976 to attend Ohio State University for his Ph.D. in Chemistry. During his career he worked in chemical research at Princeton University, The Rockefeller University, and several pharmaceutical companies in central NJ. He took up calligraphy as a serious pursuit, a passion from youth, after retiring in 2010. As a child and teen in Taiwan the strokes of calligraphy characters intrigued him by their fluidity and grace and he wished to express himself in this way once more. He is much in demand and has given lectures and performed calligraphy demonstrations at many charitable events in the Princeton area, as well as in schools, colleges, community centers, and libraries.

Hinds Plaza Gates

Exhibit Dates: April 1 until June 12, 2023

2nd Floor Nook (near the conference room)


“It’s always the right time to do the right thing” at Albert E Hinds Community Plaza

Hand embroidered by Kyle Burkhardt, 2021 and 2022

Have you ever noticed the gates in the plaza next to the Princeton Public Library? The plaza is named for Albert E Hinds, a Black resident and pillar of the Princeton community. Born on April 14, 1902 in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, Mr. Hinds lived until the age of 104. He contributed to the Princeton community in a myriad of ways,including paving Nassau Street, directing the YMCA, maintaining the Princeton Public Library’s furnace at its previous Bainbridge House location, and co-leading historical walking tours, among many others.

Thanks to the efforts of community members, the plaza was named after Mr. Hinds in 2007. Two sets of brushed stainless steel gates and two plaques honoring Mr. Hinds, created by NJ artist Tom Nussbaum, were installed in the plaza in 2013. 

Following the white supremacists’ attacks in Charlottesville in 2017, I wanted to hand embroider a statement against white supremacy. I knew the gates from many lunch hours spent on a bench in Hinds Plaza, but it wasn’t until that summer that I really, truly looked at the gates, learned more about them, and for whom they were named. One gate says “it’s always the right time”; the other says “to do the right thing”. This was one of Mr. Hinds’s favorite sayings, and a play on Martin Luther King Jr’s “the time is right to do what is right.” Most of the circles are American quilting motifs, although one mimics the hubcap of Mr. Hinds’ car. The horizontal and vertical motifs are from West African textiles.  I stitched the first gate in 2021 and the second gate in 2022. It took about 10 weeks to hand embroider each gate. I’m hoping both pieces will ultimately be on permanent public display in Princeton.

When you leave the library today, I invite you to stop at the gates in the plaza (one pair is right outside the library’s front door) and contemplate them.

About the artist: Kyle Burkhardt is a sewist and embroiderer who lives in Franklin Park and works at Princeton University. 

Connect on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vacuumingthelawn/

Presented with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this programming do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Past Exhibits