|Photo by Margaret|
One of the highlights for me during visits to Phoenix, even in mid-summer, is to pay a visit to the photography exhibit in an upper tier gallery at the Phoenix Art Museum. The pictures shown there are drawn from the vast archives of the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. The selection of pictures on this occasion was entitled Mexican Photographers, Mexican Views, which "features more than 60 photographs created solely by Mexican artists that offer an intimate view into 20th-century Mexico and the country’s shifting national identity."
|by Lola Alvarez Bravo|
At least half the photographs were made by Mexican women photographers. I was familiar with the work of most, but it was a real treat to see prints on paper and I also enjoyed making the acquaintance of some artists whose work was new to me.
|by Graciela Iturbide|
Much of the work on display dates back to the first half of the Twentieth Century. Several of the photographers started their careers as assistants to Manuel Alvarez Bravo, including his wife Lola. Like their mentor, the women often focused on recording Mexico's astoundingly beautiful indigenous people and their cultures.
New to me was the work of Mariana Yampolsky. Her pictures reflect an extraordinary life journey. She went to Mexico from Chicago in 1945 shortly after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to do print making at the Taller de Grafica Popular. Three years later she took up photography under the guidance of Lola Alvarez Bravo, and in 1954 she became a Mexican citizen.
|by Mariana Yampolsky|
As is evident in Margaret's picture of the gallery, most of the prints are small compared to today's standards, and they are often more darkly toned than we are accustomed to seeing now. The result is that many cannot be fully appreciated as reproductions in books or on line. At the gallery you really have to stand close to the prints and even lean in a bit to grasp the delicate subtleties of tonality and the compositional innovativeness.
Discovering what is possible through photography has always been one of the major rewards of the art for me. While I have mostly focused on showing scanned images of my film negatives on line, I enjoyed making some prints for an exhibit recently, and that along with the Phoenix exhibition reminded me how important it is to be able to see prints which fully reveal an artist's intentions.