Addison Gallery of American Art: Photographers Among Us and Gun Country
The Addison Gallery of American Art, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, has two new exhibitions drawn from their extensive collection of photographs. The first exhibition, Photographers Among Us, reflects the evolution of American documentary photography from the 19th century to the present day and examines the power of photography to capture history, shape public opinion, and deepen Americans’ understanding of events at home and around the world. The exhibition brings together over 200 works from the Addison’s deep holdings in the medium by such photography icons as Berenice Abbott, Richard Avedon, Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lewis Hine, Danny Lyon, Bill Owens, and Gordon Parks, among others.
The second exhibition is Gun Country, which examines the historical underpinnings of America’s fixation with firearms and illuminates gun culture as integral to the story of America through more than 40 works and includes a sound art installation created by Andover high school students that addresses the prevalence of guns in the media and in pop culture. Both exhibitions run through July 31, 2018.
Photographers Among Us explores American documentary practice throughout the 20th century and its role in recording history, illuminating social movements, and catalyzing change. Provoking questions about authenticity and the power of photography to shape public opinion, the exhibition presents a roster of renowned photographers, including Berenice Abbott, Richard Avedon, Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lewis Hine, Danny Lyon, Bill Owens, and Gordon Parks. Photographers Among Us examines the many dimensions of photojournalism and documentary photography through a survey of 225 works that capture scenes of war, mass incarceration, suburbia, and urban and rural landscapes, among other images that continue to resonate today. Photographers Among Us is on view through July 31, 2018.
“This exhibition serves as a timely examination of the great American tradition of documentary photography,” said Judith F. Dolkart, The Mary Stripp and R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art. “The Addison’s deep holdings in this area provide a forum for discussing the relevance of the lens in capturing critical moments—episodes that may change the course of events. We look forward to guiding visitors and students through the evolution of photojournalism in order to provide context and insight into documentary practice today.”
“With cameras in mobile phones, the ability to serve as a citizen witness has grown enormously,” said Addison Gallery of American Art Curatorial Fellow Tessa Hite. “This exhibition aims to place this phenomenon within the larger continuum of documentary practice, inspiring visitors to capture the world around them and think critically about the images they consume on television, online, and in the media.”
Photographers Among Us charts the evolution of documentary photography, from the Civil War through the late 20th century, providing an opportunity for visitors to follow technological developments in the field. The exhibition is organized thematically, focusing on early social reform and Depression-era photography, magazine photo-essays, images of war, and extended looks at communities and changing landscapes. Investigating a range of images for government-sponsored projects, newspapers, and photobooks.
Shedding light on one of the most controversial issues in American society, the Addison Gallery of American Art is mounting an exhibition drawn from its collection that traces the representation of firearms in the United States from the Civil War through the present day. On view through July 31, 2018, the intimate display will examine the historical underpinnings of the nation’s distinct fixation with guns and the ubiquity of firearms in America’s cultural landscape. Spanning 155 years, Gun Country brings together more than 40 works, ranging from an albumen print by Timothy H. O’Sullivan taken during the Civil War; photographs documenting pivotal scenes of 1968, including the assassination of Bobby Kennedy; to modern and contemporary works by artists Andy Warhol, Carroll Dunham, and others.
Presented in the Museum Learning Center, the exhibition is accompanied by a sound art installation created in collaboration with Phillips Academy students. Entitled “Speaking of Guns,” the work is a culmination of months of compiling excerpts that refer to guns in contemporary music, poetry, and news headlines that were read and recorded in the classroom. Student voices will fill the gallery with words that reflect reactions to the national conversation about gun violence and gun culture.
“Because of the comprehensive nature of the Addison’s holdings, we are able to draw upon the collection as a powerful lens for examining important narratives in American history that reflect the nation’s anxieties, ambitions, and desires,” said Judith F. Dolkart, The Mary Stripp and R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art. “The right to bear arms has been central to the story of America since its founding with the national debate over gun control taking new turns in recent years. We look to the Addison’s holdings and the space of the Museum Learning Center as platforms for engaging students and visitors in this broader dialogue.”
“The prevalence of guns renders them simultaneously visible and invisible in our culture. Firearms have been a common fixture of American life for centuries,” said Stephanie Sparling Williams, Addison Gallery of American Art Assistant Curator and Visiting Scholar. “Gun Country reveals this duality through images that capture the peripheral and central nature of the gun in society.”
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