Two Student-Curated Shows Focus on the Medium of Photography

The medium of photography is explored in two exhibitions opening May 23 at the Yale University Art Gallery that have been organized by student curators. 

“From Any Angle: Photographs from the Collection of Doris Bry” is a selection of 70 works from a collection of 300 images that Bry has lent the gallery on a long-term basis. The second exhibit, “Everyday Monuments: The Photographs of Jerome Liebling” explores the many facets of the artist’s practice.

Both exhibitions will remain on view through Sept. 7.

The Yale University Art Gallery has begun a new tradition by hosting student-curated shows. Pamela Franks, deputy director for collections and education and the Nolen Curator of Academic Affairs, oversees the student-curator exhibition program.

“Student-curated projects create the opportunity for students from diverse fields to come together around art; they spend hours upon hours with the original works of art, coming to terms with its significance and considering together how best to communicate their ideas and responses in the form of an exhibition,” says Frank. “The collaborative nature of the undertaking is essential to its success.”

“From Any Angle”

“From Any Angle” highlights how the meaning of a photograph can be inseparable from the physical print, with its particular texture, surface, sheen, color and density. Featured artists include Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter and Garry Winogrand, among others.

A noted scholar of eminent American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Bry is perhaps best known as the agent and confidante of Stieglitz’ wife, Georgia O’Keeffe. Bry’s collection includes photographs by renowned masters and by lesser-known artists, and features examples of a wide range of styles and photographic media. Bry describes her collection as “inadvertent,” reflecting an emphasis on each individual photograph rather than on any kind of overarching thematic relationship among the works.

The student curators have made selections for the exhibit that allow connections to be made but also highlight the diversity of the images and the autonomy of each individual picture.

Ash Anderson, a doctoral candidate in the history of art and graduate research assistant, also provided direction to the student curators. The exhibition is supported by the John F. Wieland Jr. (B.A. 1988) Fund for Student Exhibitions and the Nolen-Bradley Family and Jane and Gerald Katcher Funds for Education.

‘Everyday Monuments’

Jerome Liebling’s practice as a photographer spans nearly 60 years. Over the course of his career, he has tackled numerous and varied subjects, from social-documentary photographs of the people of Minnesota, to images of the relics of literary figures such as Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville.

The Yale University Art Gallery recently acquired nearly 40 of Liebling’s images, bringing the total number of works by the photographer in its collection to 51. Within this group, a majority of Liebling’s most substantial bodies of work is represented, providing the ability to explore the artist’s oeuvre over time.

Liebling was raised in Brooklyn, New York. His parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe. Following his service in World War II, he returned to study photography, and in the 1940s began a series of photographs of New York City. Included in the exhibition are works from this time, such as “Butterfly Boy, New York City” (1949). In 1949, Liebling moved to Minneapolis and pioneered one of the country’s first photography departments at the University of Minnesota. His images of mannequins and corpses provide a counterpoint to his images of regular people in cities such as Brooklyn and Minneapolis, as well as other locales.

Liebling was the first Walker Evans Visiting Professor of Photography at the Yale School of Art in 1976-1977. He is now professor emeritus at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he taught for more than three decades. Liebling and his former student and long-time collaborator Alan Trachtenberg, the Neil Gray Jr. Professor Emeritus of English and American Studies at Yale, worked with the student team to prepare the exhibition. Aja Armey, museum educator, also gave direction to the students.

“Everyday Monuments” is supported by the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund, and the Nolen-Bradley Family and Jane and Gerald Katcher Funds for Education.

Special events in conjunction with the exhibition include a talk by Armey titled “Seeing Through Photography: The Work of Jerome Liebling” on Wednesday, May 28, at 12:20 p.m. On Wednesday, June 11, student curators Benjamin Ogilvy ’11 and Sarah Stolfa M.F.A. ’08 will discuss “From Any Angle: Photographs from the Collection of Doris Bry.”

The Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. (at York), is open to the public free of charge Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Thursday until 8 p.m. Sept.-June); and Sunday, 1-6 p.m. For information visit http://artgallery.yale.edu or call (203) 432-0600.

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