Monday, April 28, 2014

Eugene Richards Held Over

Notes from the the Museum's curator, Janie Welker

 The Eugene Richards photography exhibition has been held over until May 18.

EUGENE RICHARDS, Wounded Veteran at Home with His Daughter,
from the War is Personal series, 2006/2010. On loan from the artist.

EUGENE RICHARDS, Tomas After an Accidental Overdose
from the War is Personal series, 2006/2010. On loan from the artist.
Intensely personal and deeply felt, the photography of Eugene Richards reflects both a profound compassion for humanity and a lifelong commitment to social activism, whether his subject is the ravages of cocaine addiction, his first wife’s struggle with breast cancer, or the emotional aftermath of 9/11.

A conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, Richards joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in 1968 and found himself working in a community service organization in eastern Arkansas. Running afoul of the Ku Klux Klan earned him a serious beating and numerous threats, but he left Arkansas with a series of haunting photographs of rural poverty that launched his career. For seventeen years, he traveled the world as a photojournalist for the agency Magnum Photo and now focuses on his own projects.

This exhibition features selections from two recent series: War is Personal, which examines the ongoing effects of the Iraq war on soldiers and their families, and The Blue Room, elegiac photographs of abandoned houses and farms he found in the center of the country, from New Mexico to North Dakota.

In War is Personal, Richards examines the human cost of the Iraq war, “what it means to go to war, to fight, to wait, to mourn, to remember, to live on when those you love are gone.” He quietly enters the lives of fifteen families who are dealing with loss, either through death or because those who returned are irrevocably changed. His book of the series contains not only photographs but essays in which he largely lets his subjects speak for themselves.

In The Blue Room, Richards examines the human experience in a very different way. Traveling through the country over a period of more than three years, he sifted through the relics of the lives once lived within now-deserted homes, finding traces of once happy families or of those who had to decamp quickly, possibly fleeing the law. “I'm not a religious person, but I find abandoned houses more spiritual than churches,” he says. “Maybe it's because they're very quiet. When you're inside, all you can hear is the wind blowing.”
Among numerous honors, Richards has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, three National Endowment for the Arts grants, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award, the National Geographic Magazine Grant for Photography, the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography, the Amnesty International Media Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Journalism Award for coverage of the disadvantaged. His film But, the day came, which chronicles the passage of an elderly Nebraska farmer to a nursing home, received the Best Short Film award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. His photography books have won numerous awards, and the books Dorchester Days and Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue were chosen for inclusion in the catalogue and international traveling exhibition The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WIDE ANGLE going back in the box

WIDE ANGLE: American Photographs last day will be this Sunday, April 27. On Monday, the staff will put Ruth Bernhard's In the Box  - Horizontal back in the box, in preparation for the next exhibition, LANDSCAPE / MINDSCAPE: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection which opens May 18 and runs through August 17, 2014.

RUTH BERNHARD  American, born Germany 1905-2006
In the Box – Horizontal, 1962
Gelatin silver print. Gift of the Estate of Ruth Bernhard

German-born Ruth Bernhard moved to New York in 1927, initially working for a woman’s magazine, and then as a commercial photographer. But her career in photography took off after a chance encounter with the influential photographer Edward Weston on a trip to Santa Monica, California, in 1935. “It was lightning in the darkness,” she said.

Bernhard moved to the West Coast to study and work with Weston and his friends in the f/64 Group, which included Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham among others. The group favored a modernist approach to photography featuring a sharp focus and carefully framed compositions.

Bernhard became known for her striking female nudes, such as In the Box—Horizontal. “My quest, through the magic of light and shadow, is to isolate, to simplify and to give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity,” she said. “To indicate the ideal proportion, and reveal sculptural mass and the dominating spirit, is my goal.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Family-Friendly Museum Visits

Notes from the Museum's Education Director,
Deborah Borrowdale-Cox

When you picture an afternoon in the Museum what words come to mind? What do you think you would hear?  During Family Fun Day at the Art Museum, the quiet calm you might associate with art-viewing was wonderfully absent as visitors young and old enjoyed the art.

Taking photography as theme, families created cameras to take imaginary photographs, took “selfies” in the gallery, framed collages with slide mounts, and captured the day’s events and feelings in a portrait session with a professional photographer. We hunted for works of art, guided by rhyming clues, and snacked on (mostly) healthy treats.  Music filled the air, provided by UK’s String Ticklers, a band whose sounds brought to life images of the bluegrass.  Fun, activity, music, and imagination were the order of the day.

Art comes to us through many paths. Plan a family-friendly visit to the Museum soon, and see what is new for you to discover and enjoy. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MUSE: Museums in Service to Educators

The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky works hand in hand with local and regional educators four or five times each year to provide instruction and inspiration for these valued partners.  MUSE events (Museums in Service to Educators) take place after school or on the weekend, presenting a rich variety of activities, tours and talks, presentations and demonstrations and opportunity to network with colleagues from around the state.  The program has developed over the past ten years, and draws an ever growing audience of teachers from pre-school to university level.  Educators are tasked with more and more goals;  this program is planned to teach content, model teaching art across the curriculum and provide support and appreciation for the artist in all of us.

On March 15, 32 educators gathered at the Art Museum to learn about the History of Images, Images of History.  Taking inspiration from our exhibition  Wide Angle:  American Photographs from the Collection, the day included an in-depth tour of the museum, and a presentation by UK art faculty member Rob Dickes, who presented Photography in the Twenty-First Century, introducing a number of engaging, doable projects for the classroom.  In the afternoon, Dr. DaMaris B. Hill, another UK faculty member spoke about the use of image and archival photographs to inspire new and old stories.  Throughout the day, lively conversation sparked new ideas and encouraged discussion about art, teaching, life and young learners.

MUSE events are organized by Sonja Brooks, the Museum’s Outreach Coordinator.  Lively, engaging yet filled with rich content and inspiring ideas, they are the museum’s effort to support and thank our region’s art teachers.  Budgets, deadlines, testing and this year snow, all place demands on the education system. Not easily quantifiable, not proven to be linked to financial success, arts education-all the arts-can be rendered less important in contrast to the markers which indicate mastery.  The arts are a measure of how we dream and create, they define our past and envision our future.  The Museum is honored to play a role in keeping them alive in our classrooms and our student’s minds and hearts.

Deborah Borrowdale-Cox, Museum Director of Education

image: CARRIE MAE WEEMS, Mayflowers, from May Days Long Forgotten series, chromogenic print. Purchase: the Robert C. May Photography Fund.