Colby Museum photography exhibit highlights rare and unpublished works by leading artists

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Colby Museum photography exhibit highlights rare and unpublished works by leading artists
Ralph Eugene Meatyard (American, 1925–1972), Untitled, ca. 1959. Gelatin silver print, 9 ¾ x 10 in. The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection, 158.2020.

WATERVILLE, ME.- The Colby College Museum of Art is currently presenting a dynamic showcase of 150 photographs by 100 artists who collectively represent some of the most significant work in the medium over the last century.

Act of Sight: The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection, which will be on view through August 14, 2022 and includes many rare and unpublished images by well-known photographers, reveals the breadth and depth of the Tsiaras Family Photography Collection, a remarkable gift of 500 photographs to the Colby Museum from Dr. William Tsiaras and Nancy Meyer Tsiaras, Colby alumni from the class of 1968.

“This remarkable gift from Bill and Nancy Tsiaras allows the Colby Museum and its audiences to fully engage with photography, which has been critical to the development of art, and American culture in particular,” said Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy director of the Colby Museum. “The story of how the collection grew over time—largely through direct interaction with some of the medium’s leading and lesser-known practitioners—is also a wonderful testament to the power of curiosity and the belief that close looking is a valuable means to learning.”

The photographs in the Tsiaras Family Photography Collection, in all their great variety, capture moments of the human experience and our relationship to the social environment and the natural world. While some works date from the 1880s, the installation highlights the collection’s particular strengths in American photography of the twentieth century as well as connections between images, examining formal, conceptual, and thematic relationships across photography’s many histories.

Modern masterpieces by Ansel Adams, Clarence White, Edward Steichen, Roy DeCarava, Berenice Abbott, and Edward Weston complement powerful documentary images from nearly every photographer of the Depression-era Farm Security Administration, including Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, and Arthur Rothstein as well as key figures from the Photo League and Magnum, important photographic collaboratives.

Additional areas of focus include portraiture, photographic abstraction, scientific imagery, and street photography, as well as a section dedicated to photographers who picture human-altered landscape. The exhibition will also give special consideration to the photographs of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, who were patients and friends of Dr. Tsiaras, and will feature works by Dr. Tsiaras’s brothers, Alexander and Phillip Tsiaras, illuminating this and other aspects of a collection that was informed by an artistic family and close friendships. Act of Sight: The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection is accompanied by an amply illustrated catalogue with a collectors’ reflection and brief essays on specific works by 14 additional contributors.

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