Fine Art Photography Daily

Nancy Rexroth: Iowa

2.15 My Mother Pennsville OH 1970F

©Nancy Rexroth, My Mother, Pennsville, OH 1970

When I first discovered the Diana camera in the 1990’s there were few places to look for inspiration. That was, until I found the seminal book by Nancy Rexroth titled IOWA. It was difficult to lay hands on a copy as it had been originally published in 1977.  But I did find it and the book is now dogeared, from hours of looking and being inspired by the magic that a simple toy camera, in the hands of an artist, could produce. Her poetic, well seen capture of people and places in her life were and are an inspiration to generations of photographers. Forty years after its original publication,  IOWA  has been reissued by the University of Texas Press, now in a hardcover edition that includes twenty-two previously unpublished images. The photographs are accompanied by a new foreword by Magnum photographer and book maker Alec Soth and an essay by internationally acclaimed curator Anne Wilkes Tucker, “who affirms the continuing power and importance of IOWA within the photobook genre”. New postscripts by Nancy Rexroth and Mark L. Power, who wrote the essay in the first edition, complete the volume.

2.26 Mother's Knees Albany OH 1976F

©Nancy Rexroth, Mother’s Knees, Albany, OH 1976

In the early 1970s, Nancy Rexroth began photographing the rural landscapes, children, white frame houses, and domestic interiors of southeastern Ohio with a plastic toy camera called the Diana. Working with the camera’s properties of soft focus and vignetting, and further manipulating the photographs by deliberately blurring or sometimes overlaying them, Rexroth created dreamlike, poetic images of “my own private landscape, a state of mind.” She called this state IOWA because the photographs seemed to reference her childhood summer visits to relatives in Iowa. Rexroth self-published her evocative images in 1977 in the book IOWA, and the photographic community responded immediately and strongly to the work. Aperture published a portfolio of IOWA images in a special issue, The Snapshot, alongside the work of Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, and Emmet Gowin. The International Center for Photography, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution included IOWA images in group exhibitions.

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Iowa book cover

3.06 Clara in the Closet Carpenter OH 1973F

©Nancy Rexroth, Clara in the Closet, Carpenter, OH 1973

3.03 A Woman's Bed Logan OH 1970F

©Nancy Rexroth, A Woman’s Bed, Logan, OH 1970

2.27 Aunt Martha's Hands Grandview Iowa 1973F

©Nancy Rexroth, Aunt Martha’s Hands, Grandview, Iowa 1973

2.22 Boy and St Bernard Shawnee OH 1974F

©Nancy Rexroth, Boy and St Bernard, Shawnee, OH 1974

2.17 Emmet Smiling Kreiger Falls OH 1973F

©Nancy Rexroth, Emmet Smiling Kreiger, Falls, OH 1973

2.01 Emmet Dances the Jig Kreiger Falls OH 1974F

©Nancy Rexroth, Emmet Dances the Jig Kreiger, Falls, OH 1974

1.10 House and Fence Washington DC 1972F

©Nancy Rexroth, House and Fence, Washington DC 1972

1.03 Back Porch Washington DC 1972F

©Nancy Rexroth, Back Porch, Washington DC 1972

00.0 Theater Vanceburg KY 1975F

©Nancy Rexroth, Theater, Vanceburg, KY 1975

2.05 Boys Flying Amesville OH 1976F2

©Nancy Rexroth, Boys Flying, Amesville, OH 1976

2.11 End of Day 2 Sugar Creek OH 1976F

©Nancy Rexroth, End of Day 2, Sugar Creek, OH 1976


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