For example, Darrel Ellis modified photographs made by his father. Carla Williams and Chris Johnson make self-portraits. Cynthia Wiggins creates narrative texts about men in her family, and Stephen Marc assembles autobiographical montages from snapshots.
Carrie Mae Weems also uses text in a five-photo piece on female identity. The most unusual texts are the tattoos on the bodies of young men photographed by Dennis Callwood.
However used, text denatures the literalness of the photos, so that the viewer experiences the work more as fiction than as visual fact.
"Reflections in Black" is a dense exhibition that doesn't pull punches or try to be polite. The thoughts and emotions it expresses are piquant and deeply felt.
Stedman Gallery, Fine Arts Center, Third and Pearl Streets, Camden. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Through March 3. Information: 856-225-6350 or http://rcca.camden.rutgers.edu.
Metaphysical boxes. Over more than 50 years, Philadelphia artist Thomas Chimes has developed an intensely metaphysical and mysterious art that has gone through several incarnations.
In one phase, from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Chimes, nominally a painter, created sleek metal reliefs in the form of shallow, wall-mounted boxes.
Until his current exhibition at Locks Gallery, these constructions hadn't been shown here as a group. The gallery borrowed 20 from private collections and combined them with a large selection of current paintings to create an exhibition called "Complete Circle."
The boxes are just as enigmatic as the paintings. They're low reliefs composed of multiple parts, including electrical circuitry, words and painted panel inserts.
Beautifully crafted, the boxes appear concrete and precise, like the products of an engineering lab, but in fact they're elaborate puzzles that address that part of human existence that may never be fully understood - the unconscious mind, the realm of intuition, dreams and hallucinations.
Chimes' current paintings, which include astronomical imagery and inscriptions in Greek, are also constructed as low reliefs. They're all white or gray, generally small, and, like the boxes, constructed in layers.
Juxtaposing these two bodies of work, made three decades apart, affirms Chimes' constancy. As art movements have come and gone, he has remained dedicated to creating pathways into the unconscious. Also, paradoxically, the less clear his tactics, the more appealing his art becomes.
Locks Gallery, 600 Washington Square South. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through Feb. 24. Information: 215-629-1000 or www.locksgallery.com.
It's in the details. Huger Foote's color photographs, on view in the Sol Mednick Gallery at University of the Arts, demonstrate how seemingly random details can add up to an unexpected insight.
The pictures don't appear to focus on anything in particular, but they require the viewer to create an organizing framework.
It isn't hard to do, though, because Foote's landscape images in particular are similar to Ray K. Metzker's - one must penetrate a blurry scrim of foreground foliage to enter the scene.
Foote's unusually vibrant colors make his photographs appealing and easy to approach. It's only after one is hooked by their clarity and chromatic brilliance that one begins to appreciate how subtle his vision is.
For instance, one of the larger prints depicts a stony pavement strewn with vegetable garbage, perhaps in an outdoor market, seen in closeup.
A woman's legs, her feet clad in red open-toed high heels, strides in from the left. Behind the red shoes, at the extreme edge, there's a single work boot. The garbage scraps suggest a still life, while the shoes imply a narrative. Perhaps more than one.
Sol Mednick Gallery, 15th floor of the Terra Building, 211 S. Broad St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through Feb. 9. Information: 215-717-6300 or www.uarts.edu.
Drawing's public face. Among other things, "Drawing Projects" at Gallery Joe offers a preview of a large hanging sculpture by Alice Aycock that will be installed at Philadelphia International Airport in the spring.
A 10-foot-wide color drawing depicts a covered footbridge designed for the University of Iowa by Siah Armajani and recently installed there. Winifred Lutz has pasted to several gallery walls renderings of huge boulders that she's including in a garden at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The drawings in this show, 25 by seven artists, mostly involve public-art projects of various kinds. One artist, Amy Hauft, has created small models of two projects rather than drawings. Another, Harry Roseman, offers two drapery studies for a 300-foot-long sculptural relief at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The most intriguing exhibit is a 90-sheet series of drawings by Allan Wexler in which he deconstructs a house stick by stick. The paper is translucent, and the deconstruction - or, if you prefer, the reverse - occurs through sequential overlay.
The show's most impressive drawing, by Aycock, is a more than 5-by-6-foot ink rendering of a fantastic garden filled with imaginary "scripts." It's a vision that hasn't been built and probably couldn't be, but is so fully conceived that it doesn't need to be.
Gallery Joe, 302 Arch St. Hours: noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Through Feb. 24. Information: 215-592-7752.
Edward J. Sozanski's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.