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Landmark photography exhibition at Wellesley College begins next month, features work spanning 200 years

Posted by Evan Allen  August 15, 2012 09:02 AM

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warhol - diana ross.jpg
Andy Warhol, Diana Ross, 1981, Polacolor 2, Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. 2008.24

The Davis Museum at Wellesley College will present a sprawling photography exhibit beginning next month that traces a two-century history of the museum’s collection and all the people who have influenced it.

“A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley 1972-2012” will run from Sept. 12 through Dec. 16, and will be free to the public.

The exhibition will feature works by more than 60 artists, arranged chronologically by date of acquisition – an unusual setup that will allow viewers to chart the evolution of the museum’s collection.

From a print from one of the oldest photographic negatives in existence – William Hnery Fox Talbot’s Oriel Window at Lacock Abbey – to more modern work by the likes of Nan Goldin, Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus, the exhibition will showcase a wide range of techniques and aesthetics.

“With this exhibition, the Davis honors and investigates the extraordinary legacy of collecting and pedagogical leadership in photography at Wellesley College,” said Lisa Fischman, the Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis Museum in a press release from the college. “Wellesley was the first undergraduate college to offer a major in art history and, by incorporating studio art courses into the curriculum, forged what became widely known as the 'Wellesley Method.’”

The college will hold an opening celebration on Sept. 12, starting at 5 p.m. with a keynote address at the Collins Cinema by photography expert Eugenia Parry, a former professor of art at Wellesley College and current adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. There will be a reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Davis Lobby and Galleries.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Davis Plaza, photographer Alex Brown will be presenting his newest project, The Pop Up Photo Booth – a tented photo booth where he conducts 5-minute portrait sessions.

On September 29, the college will hold Family Day at the Davis, with photo games, a scavenger hunt and light refreshments. Family Day will be held in the Davis Lobby and Galleries.

The college will also hold a Panel Discussion on Oct. 24 called The Critical Eye: Photography Now, in which scholars will discuss critical responses to the state of photography today. There will be a reception at 4:30 p.m. and the panel at 5:30 p.m. in the Newhouse Center for the Humanities.

Finally, the college will present a Sunday Film Series featuring prominent photographers with work on view in the exhibition. The series will run on Sept. 23, Nov. 4, and Dec. 9, with screenings at 3 p.m. each day in the Collins Cinema.

The Davis is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, it stays open until 8 p.m., and Sundays it is open from noon to 4 p.m. It is closed on Mondays, holidays and during college recesses.

Admission is free and open to the public. Parking is free in the lot behind the museum and the Davis Parking Facility.

For more information, call 781-283-2051. For tour information, call 781-283-3382.

Evan Allen can be reached at

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