"This was supposed to be about the environment and the abuse of the environment. It wasn't supposed to be pointing fingers, pointing fingers at Bryn Athyn,
at Lower Moreland, at Republicans."
The photographs depict local scenes of environmental devastation, including tree stumps on land cleared for development in Lower Moreland, a dead deer by the side of the road in Bryn Athyn, a digitally manipulated image of the Limerick nuclear power plant engulfed in flames, and an image - originally titled Republican Pro-Life - of a blood-filled toilet bowl swallowing up a tiny Earth.
"They have an edge, there is no question. They're supposed to have an edge," Griffith said.
Griffith said her photos were removed in violation of gallery guidelines and under pressure from the Bryn Athyn Cathedral, which owns the property.
Cass said the photos were removed because they "did not harmonize with the ambience of the gallery."
"The gallery is not an edgy gallery. It's not a South Street gallery," she said.
The exhibit, which shows the work of two other photographers, is titled "Uncertain Future: Earth Found, Used and Abused."
Griffith, who also runs the Giving Gallery in Huntingdon Valley, said she thought her work fit the theme.
"Traditionally, photography has played a role in social change," she said. "I view my work as part of that tradition. It's a very specific body of work that localizes the responsibility."
She said that she thought the matter had been settled Tuesday morning when she agreed to remove the word Republican from the toilet-bowl photo at the request of gallery officials and that she was surprised when all six of her photos were taken down the following morning.
She said a gallery board member told her that "80 percent of Bryn Athyn is Republican, and the Artworks cannot offend its customer base."
Griffith said it was unprofessional for the gallery to remove her work after it had been juried into the show. According to guidelines on the gallery's Web site, juried work can remain in the gallery for up to three months.
Cass said the decision was made after complaints from several people and an "agonizing meeting" of board members.
She said several board members went to the pastor of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral, the Rev. Thomas Kline, to express their concerns.
She said Mr. Kline told them that the church is "apolitical" and did not approve of the display of art of a political nature but did not order the removal of the artworks, which he had not seen.
She said that when he later looked at Griffith's photos, he told them: "You made the right choice."
"The church is the landlord, and they have been extremely facilitative," she said.
Mr. Kline yesterday confirmed Cass' account.
Orchard Artworks is housed in a 250-year-old building owned by the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. It was renovated with private donations raised by a corporation created for that purpose and pays a nominal rent, Cass said.
Griffith said it was not the first time her work had been censored there. At the gallery opening in May, she hung three photographs taken at a 1976 Women's Conference but was asked to take them down because one of the captions referred to a vigil for lesbian rights.
"Tracy immediately said the word lesbian was a problem," Griffith said.
"I had cold feet about it," Cass said. "It might have been a little bit of overcaution on my part."
She said the gallery had to be vigilant about the materials it displayed. "We're not about confrontationalism. . . . We're a community place. We have kindergartners coming in here from the school."
Cynthia J. McGroarty's e-mail
UPDATE: Please note that Tracy Cass ended her affiliation with Orchard Artworks in September 2002 and that Linda Griffith would like to honor the contributions Tracy has since made to the community in support of artists and their work.