Commons Gallery Presents Andrew Ortwein: The Greatest War, June 8 – Sept. 2

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 31, 2012

Arcadia University’s Commons Gallery is pleased to present a new suite of twelve digitally printed photographs by Andrew Ortwein ’07 on view from June 8 through Sept. 2, 2012.

Each large-scale color print in the series, titled The Greatest War, appears to portray a soldier in the throes of a battle. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that the images actually depict plastic action heroes carefully posed and staged in actual outdoor settings.

The series was inspired by Ortwein’s recent encounter with his own childhood toys, which he discovered strewn across the basement floor of his parents’ home. Once he began to photograph these action figures, Ortwein rediscovered the realism that had animated his imagination when he played with the toys when he was a child. Due to their large scale, many of the images offer convincing representations of what appear to be real events. Others, however, can be readily recognized as picturing plastic toys. This discrepancy opens up a range of issues, including the nature of boys’ play, the activity of the artist, and contemporary media’s representation of military conflict.

Ortwein lives and works in Jenkintown, Pa. He began his exploration of photography as a student at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography from Arcadia University in 2007. More recently, Ortwein’s work was juried into the 2010 Jenkintown Festival of the Arts, where he won best in show. His website ( showcases his other photographic series.

Arcadia University is located at 450 S. Easton Road, Glenside, Pa.

Commons Gallery hours are: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Noon to 4 p.m. Closed Independence Day. For more information contact 215-572-2131.