Eric Renner
1941 - 2020
ERIC RENNER Eric Renner of the Mimbres Valley, New Mexico, an artist and leading authority on pinhole photography died unexpectedly on April 9th in Las Cruces, NM, after experiencing a massive heart attack. Eric was 78 years old. Eric Renner was born in 1941 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Richard L. Renner, a graphic artist, and Emma (Josie) Wallach Renner, an occupational therapist. Eric grew up in Ambler, sixteen miles from Philadelphia. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Eric Renner settled in New Mexico, first in Santa Fe and then in the Mimbres Valley, where he built a home with studio facilities that both reflected and enabled his unique artistic outlook. He created pinhole images that are in the collections of museums around the world including: The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City; The International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; and the national museums of Canada, Brazil, France, and Poland. Eric's work has been featured in solo exhibitions in the U.S., China, Japan, Brazil, and elsewhere. He wrote "Pinhole Photography: From Historic Technique to Digital Application", now in it's fourth printing, and received numerous grants and honors, including, along with his wife, Nancy Spencer, the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence In The Arts in 2015. Renner and Spencer donated the Pinhole Resource Collection of 6,000 photographs from 500 photographers in 35 countries to the New Mexico Museum of History, Palace of the Governors Photo Archive in 2013. The "Poetics of Light," an exhibition, which featured the Pinhole Resource collection, opened at the museum in April, 2014, and ran for one and a half years. "Poetics of Light" later travelled to the National Media Museum in Bradford, England. With his wife and collaborator Nancy Spencer, Eric made photographs, built assemblages, and taught photography. The two directed Pinhole Resource, a clearinghouse and purveyor of books, supplies, and information on lensless photography. Between 1985 and 2006, they also published Pinhole Journal, a fine art periodical featuring pinhole images and relevant articles Eric Renner is represented by "A Light Art Space" in Silver City, New Mexico. Eric Renner was a rare and beautiful soul whose spirit will long remain in the minds of the many people whose lives he touched. He is remembered for his wild, crazy hair, engaging smile, colorful wardrobe, passion for pinhole photography, and his uplifting sense of humor. But above all else, he will be remembered for an aura that glowed with a persuasive, happy-in-his-own-skin surety that was both enviable and inspirational. Eric is survived by his wife Nancy Spencer, sister Susan Schoenfeld of Souderton, Pennsylvania; sons, Zephyr Renner of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Yarian Renner of Los Angeles, California; step children Yates Spencer of Lexington, Virginia and Beth Spencer of Silver City, New Mexico and her husband Abel Duffy; step grandchildren Ely Spencer, Gus Spencer, and Sam Spencer of Lexington, Virginia and Milo Duffy of Silver City, New Mexico; cousin Evan Koch of Spirit Lake, Idaho; and dear friends Bolek Peplowski of Portland, Maine, Scott McMahon of Columbia, Missouri and Nilu Izadi Nuthall of London, England.
Published by Santa Fe New Mexican from Apr. 17 to Apr. 19, 2020.
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17 Entries
I wrote about pinhole photography and taught photo history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and used Eric's mag. "The Pinhole Journal" often. Students loved his mag. His contribution to the field was incredible. I moved to Santa Fe, NM in 2019 and wanted to look him up, but it was too late when I got around to it. He was amazing and I so wanted to meet him.
James Hugunin
April 11, 2021
Eric was a professor of mine at Alfred University. He was always helpful and treated me with respect. I liked him.
Peter Knickerbocker
April 11, 2021
Irene A. Hofmann
July 3, 2020
I'm a proud owner of 2, 3 (signed by Eric), and 4 ed of Pinhole Photography, also several pinhole, zoneplate and else from them. Every time I needed some guidance about, they were there. He and Nancy were and are very special people.
Thank you for all!
From Lisboa, Portugal
Pedro Gil
May 31, 2020
Eric was a dear friend while I was at Alfred and he treated me as an adult. I just found this..I'm so sorry to hear this..I will miss him!
peter knickerbocker
May 30, 2020
We never met, though I thought we might some day. I spoke with Eric a number of times regarding photography and when I received a grant to purchase some materials I sourced with Eric, I felt so rewarded that Eric was doing so much with a technique which was so challenging in the early days. I included Pinhole Photography as a subset of teaching Scientific Methods and was rewarded with the utter amazement of students who were finding out that a camera is not always something so complex, and who branched out to make creative variations and create images that were interesting.
Eric seemed to be available to chat to offer any kind of help any of us needed-- A true inspiration in terms of the craft and, of course, the Art of Pinhole Photography.
I did manage to find a Pinhole image I made in Prague by the Vltava using a 1940's era Leica with a pinhole fitted-- just thought it might be appropriate.

Godspeed my friend-- I would so have liked to meet up with you and your lovely wife.
John from Cleveland.
John Fleshin
May 30, 2020
I am so sorry to hear about Eric. I spend an amazing week with Eric and Nancy when they housed the Pinhole Resource. Eric was instrumental in research & completion of my dissertation on pinhole and I will forever be grateful to him for his expertise and gentle spirit. May he rest in peace.
Renee O'Brien
May 18, 2020
Eric Renner was such an important part of the artistic community in Silver City. He and his wife, Nancy Spencer, are consummate professionals in their field, and Eric's passing represents a very real and lasting loss in the local and international communities that Eric and Nancy cultivated. I regret not having spent more time with him, he was a unique and highly talented person. Goodbye Eric, I'm so sorry you had to leave us.
Tina Oldknow
May 1, 2020
I remember meeting Eric for the first time when he bought his property on the Royal John Mine Rd. That was a long time ago, and he's been a good friend and neighbor ever since. To Nancy and his sons, Love and Blessings. He will truly be missed.
Bekcy Smith Ladner
May 1, 2020
We met Eric about 5 years ago here in Silver City. First you see Eric and then you talk with him and very soon you know he is a very special person. Eric was such a giving person in many ways; smart creative and kind. We will miss him so much.
Mimi and Art Peterson
May 1, 2020
I will miss you Eric. You have been an inspiration since 1992, and still are. A visionary artist and the best expert in pinhole photography.
Alessandra Capodacqua
April 28, 2020
A great man and wonderful artist who gave me my first national publication credit and all his support. So sad to hear of his passing and my deepest condolences to his family. This world is a darker place without him.
Darlene Kaczmarczyk
April 24, 2020
Eric inspired me. His Pinhole Journal was vital in my own research, writing, and practice of pinhole photography. He was admired by all my photo students, too.
James Hugunin
April 23, 2020
I spent a few days with Nancy and Eric in late 2016 and grew fond of Eric in a very short time. His warmth and kindness shone forth in everything he did, and his love and support for Nancy were extraordinary. Rest in peace, Eric.
Susan Monroe
April 23, 2020
We will miss you Eric, you always made us smile when you came into the shop!! Our prayers go out to Nancy and your family!!
David Van Auker
April 22, 2020
I miss you Eric. Your creative spirit lives on in the art I have that you and Nancy created. I cant believe youre gone.
Ann Lowe
April 22, 2020
1978 Alfred University...SUNY Alfred, upstate NY....a wild, visionary teacher with joy and enthusiasm, anything could be experimented long as it made a pinhole photograph. He was experimenting with Geodesic domes and many alternative ways of living. He was kind and kept us laughing. I had other close very dear good friends who were close to Eric thus this was in ways part of my path years ago to move to NewMexico. He actually was in a great part responsible for my move to New Mexico. The best expert on pinhole photography he was! Rest in peace dear Eric.
Ana MacArthur
April 20, 2020
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