Chalmers Earns International Acclaim for Murder Exhibit

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A Youngstown State University professor’s mixed-art exhibit on a 19th century murder is drawing international attention.

The exhibit by Stephen Chalmers, YSU professor of photography, focuses on the 1896 decapitation of Pearl Bryan in northern Kentucky, who was seven months pregnant at the time of her murder. With support from a YSU University Research Council Grant and a Summer Faculty Innovation Grant from the YSU Cliffe College of Creative Arts and Communication, Chalmers photographed the original sites and artifacts related to Bryan’s life and death.

In addition, Chalmers uses excerpts and woodcuts from contemporaneous books and newspaper accounts, as well as information from original court transcripts of the crime to visually tell Bryan’s story. In 1897, Bryan’s boyfriend, Scott Jackson, and his roommate, Alonzo Walling, were convicted of the murder and hanged.

At the time, the murder was deemed “the crime of the century,” was covered extensively by The New York Times and inspired more than 25 folk songs.

Chalmers’ exhibit is one of 25 semifinalists from a field of 456 international artists in the Annual International Competition of the Print Center in Philadelphia, and is part of a group exhibition in the Bolivar Art Gallery at the University of Kentucky. This month, it was featured in a six-page spread in Germany’s Stern Crime magazine.

Chalmers holds a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University, and has had work exhibited from San Diego and Chicago to the Netherlands and China. View selections from the Pearl Bryan exhibit at

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