MOON TWP. − On Feb. 1 1896, the 7-months pregnant Pearl Bryan was murdered and decapitated by her lover in northern Kentucky with the assistance of his roommate. Called “the crime of the century,” the murder captured the imagination of the country, with daily coverage of the trial, including by the New York Times, and spawning more than 25 popular folk songs.
A new Robert Morris University exhibition studies that murder, combining photographs of the original sites, artifacts related to the crime, excerpts and woodcuts from books and newspaper accounts, and information gleaned from the original court transcripts.
Stephen Chalmers, artist of the exhibition titled “Pearl Bryan,” presents more than 80 pieces on display to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. now through Nov. 7 at the Media Arts Gallery in the Wheatley Center on the Robert Morris campus in Moon Township.
An artist talk and closing reception will take place 4:30-8 p.m. Nov. 7, with an opportunity for the artist to meet the public and discuss the artwork.
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Chalmers has worked as an emergency medical technician, a lead treatment counselor to severely emotionally disturbed children, and taught photography to gang children, informing his projects which deal with issues of loss. His work has been in group and solo exhibitions throughout the U.S. and also in Australia, Ireland, British Columbia, Thailand, England, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands and China. He has been a visiting artist at numerous colleges and universities and regularly teaches workshops in alternative photographic processes and digital imaging.
A Boardman, Ohio, resident, Chalmers earned his master’s degree in cinema and photography from Southern Illinois University and served on the National Board of Directors for the Society for Photographic Education from 2017-20. He taught photography and digital media at universities in Washington and Ohio. His work appears in several collections including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Light Work, Polaroid, and the Getty Research Institute.
Selections from his projects can be found at


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