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Photographer behind ‘Humanitas,’ Indian culture comes to MoPA

The lower half of Fredric Roberts’ resume is rather impressive: graduate of Yale University, spent 30 years in the finance industry, chairman of Nasdaq in the 1990s. But if you skim through all that and get to the top, you’ll find his true passion: connecting with people. That’s how he defines the art of photography.

“It’s not about going around with a camera, sticking a lens in everybody’s face,” Roberts said. “You spend time, then you form a relationship, then a picture evolves or it doesn’t.”

In Roberts’ case, hundreds of thousands of pictures have evolved. But it’s 36 of them that make up his current exhibition, “Humanitas: Images of India by Fredric Roberts,” which was honored at the Museum of Photographic Arts’ “Passage to India Gala” last Friday. Patrons gathered to meet the artist, view the collection and to celebrate Indian culture.

In 2003 and 2006, Roberts spent time in various parts of India, capturing domestic and economic life. This collection - through portraiture and landscape - depicts beauty and grace, spirituality and devotion, work and family. Vibrant color, which is one of Roberts’ signatures, is carried throughout the exhibition, and was also seen about the night.

A giant pink, turquoise and purple tent enveloped the foyer where authentic Indian fare and cocktails were served. Princesses from the House of India in Balboa Park performed traditional Indian dances. Tabla and sitar musicians entertained the crowd, which came dressed in cocktail attire, saris and other Indian apparel. An opportunity drawing awarded one guest a 2006 photograph titled “Dark Eyes,” which was taken by Roberts.

Among the attendees: MoPA board president Gail Bryan, MoPA director Deborah Klochko, Barry and Hema Lall, Alan and Brigit Pitcairn, Chris and Katherine Kozo, Julia Brown, Judy Shragge, Katie Shragge, Jill Dillard, Mirela Dauti, Rahis Khan, Suzan Shaanan, Arabis Moore and Jenna Morrow.

“Humanitas” runs through Sept. 7.

Photos by Nicole Reino.