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The Davis Museum presents "A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley 1972-2012"
Cindy Sherman, from Untitled (Bus Riders), 1976/2005. 20 black and white photographs, 8 x 10 in. Museum purchase with funds provided by Wellesley College Friends of Art, 2012.17. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

WELLESLEY, MASS.- The Davis Museum at Wellesley College presents A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley 1972-2012, a landmark exhibition tracing the evolution of the Davis photography collection through the many people who have influenced its course. A stunning range of images taken by some of photography’s most iconic image makers. On view September 12 through December 16, 2012 in the Bronfman and Chandler Galleries, the exhibition will be free and open to the public.

Mined from the extensive photographic holdings, this innovative exhibition features more than 100 works by more renowned artists that have been selected for interpretation by more than sixty participants—Davis directors and curators, Wellesley faculty, alumnae in the field, and major donors—all of whom have had an instrumental role in the shape and pedagogical use of the collection over the last forty years. The selections are organized unconventionally, by date of acquisition, which allows for serendipitous and revealing juxtapositions, surprising connections and startling revelations.

From William Henry Fox Talbot’s Oriel Window at Lacock Abbey, (a print from one of the oldest photographic negatives in existence) to the contemporary works of Cindy Sherman and James Casebere (acquired to celebrate this major exhibition), photographs by some of history’s most iconic image makers–Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Eugène Atget, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Gertrude Käsebier, André Kertész, Danny Lyon, Susan Meiselas, Laura McPhee, Abelardo Morell, Nicholas Nixon, Lorraine O’Grady, Edward Ruscha, Fazal Sheikh, Jem Southam, Carrie Mae Weems, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, and more–will be on view.

With a wide range of techniques represented, the collection tells the story of photography over nearly two centuries, helping us understand why and how images are made and the important role the medium has had in shaping visual culture.

The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue feature an eloquent range of pictures, from anonymous early photographs to works by renowned contemporary artists. This diversity reflects the impassioned engagement of innumerable contributors over time, and the aspirational ambitions and exuberant inventiveness of the photographic project at Wellesley writ large.

“With this exhibition, the Davis honors and investigates the extraordinary legacy of collecting and pedagogical leadership in photography at Wellesley College,” stated Lisa Fischman, the Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis Museum. “It is exciting to see rarely viewed photographs, consider the works in our collection from different perspectives, and reconnect colleagues in the process.”

The project draws inspiration from the historic Photography within the Humanities initiative of 1975–77, conceived by former Wellesley faculty members Eugenia Parry and Wendy Snyder MacNeil. Visitors from the national photographic community chose photographs that culminated in an exhibition organized by former museum director Ann Gabhart.

Curated by Lucy Flint, with Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis Museum, and Hannah Townsend ’11.

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