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Staff Spotlight: Bruce Backus

At work, Bruce Backus, assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Environmental Health & Safety, focuses on providing a safe and healthy environment for research, teaching and patient care at Washington University. In his personal life, Backus has a passion for digital photography. Some of his work can be seen on display as a part of the Art at Farrell Exhibit on the second floor of the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center at the Medical Campus.

Merry Go Round of Life, By Bruce Backus
Merry Go Round of Life, By Bruce Backus

He has been involved with photography since the age of eight. Once he discovered digital photography, he left film and the darkroom behind because of the creative freedom and control that comes with digital processing. Bruce lives in Kirkwood, Missouri, and Kirkwood is often the location for his photographic subjects.

Bruce’s work has received awards and recognitions from the St. Louis Camera Club, the Photographic Society of America, Kirkwood Arts Foundation and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He has exhibited at Art at the Station and other juried shows. One of his photos was selected for exhibit at the Sheldon Art Gallery and another is featured on the home page of the Kirkwood Historical Society website.

Bruce Backus photo
Bruce Backus

Bruce’s artwork is eclectic. It ranges from very traditional representational images, color or black & white, to photos that digitally combine two or more disparate subjects. The traditional photos could be classified as nature, travel, architecture, portraiture or photojournalism, but they are all meant to convey the beauty of the world around us. The photos combining disparate subjects, such as The Migration, Swing for the Moon, or St. Louis Arch – Ford Mustang Dreams, are visual whimsy meant to bring a smile to the viewer’s face. Others, such as Merry-Go-Round of Life, have a more personal meaning. Merry-Go-Round was created when Bruce was caring for very ill parents recovering from surgeries while both were suffering from differing neurological diseases. It is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, or when the road ahead is uncertain, it is important to bring joy and happiness, whether from family, friends or from within yourself, to deal with this gift we call life.

It is hoped that viewers will find at least one image in this collection that speaks to them or brings simple pleasure in the viewing.