150 Years Later: New Photography from Tina Barney, Tim Davis, and Katherine Newbegin
When: January 28 - April 27, 2011
About the Show
As part of a campus-wide celebration of Vassar’s sesquicentennial anniversary, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center has commissioned three photographers, Tina Barney, Tim Davis, and Katherine Newbegin, to create new work. The resulting photographs focus on the people, environment, and culture of Vassar today in entirely new ways. These new works created for this exhibition uncover a side of Vassar that is not often seen by the average visitor to campus. Foregoing the typical view of architectural and natural beauty for which the College is known, Barney, Davis, and Newbegin instead focus on the idiosyncratic, the ironic, and the hidden aspects of campus life that lie beneath the surface, piecing together a portrait of Vassar that reveals as much about the artist’s interests as does their subject.
About the photographers
Tina Barney was born in 1945 to a wealthy family in New York City. Her grandfather introduced her to photography when she was a little girl and at 26 she began collecting photographs, though she did not take up the practice herself until the 1970s. In 1973 she moved to Sun Valley Idaho with her husband and their two sons where she began her artistic training in photography. Although she was located in Idaho, she was drawn to the colors and sensibilities she left on the East Coast. In 1979 she began working in color, later using a large-format view camera to create highly detailed images on a massive scale. Barney began by photographing intimate moments among elite families of the east coast. Among her favorite subjects was her own family, including her sister Jill who appears in many of her works from this period. Barney’s style is part candid, part tableau; her subject matter raises in equal measure issues of privilege and the interaction of family members. While striving for the candidness of a snapshot, Barney became one of the first artists working in the 1980s to explore a “directorial” mode of making pictures. Her decision to direct her subjects stems in part from her choice to sacrifice the freedom of a 35 millimeter camera (with which she began her photographic career) for the large format camera’s ability to deliver a more detailed rendering of the trappings of wealth so integral to depicting her subjects and their environment. Her direction ranges from careful lighting and posing her subjects to simply asking them to repeat a spontaneous gesture. The effect is an unexpectedly intimate access to her subjects. In the course of a decade, Barney has brought her camera closer and closer to her subjects. Barney’s work continues to explore relationships between individuals, focusing on personal connection and disconnection, heritage, and self-presentation. Monographic publications on her work include: Friends and Relations: Photographs byTina Barney (Smithsonian 1991), Tina Barney Photographs: Theater of Manners (Scalo 1997), Tina Barney: The Europeans (Steidl 2005). Barney’s newest book, Players, is due to come out in May 2010. Her work is in such collections as the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut; Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Katherine Newbegin explores “empty” spaces in her highly charged visual imagery. Born in 1976 in Portland, Oregon, Newbegin received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a concentration in Photography from Yale University in 1999 and her Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Hunter College in 2005. Newbegin is interested in what is behind the façade. Nothing is arranged in her works, nothing is specifically illuminated or staged. In her a 2003 series, she examined our notions of the ideal vacation and how it has shifted over time. She captured the The Sugar Maples Resort, an abandoned vacation getaway in the Catskill region of New York State that still shows vague evidence of the comforts once enjoyed by visitors. The American dream of enjoying the countryside at an unassuming, peaceful resort seems to have crumbled, as families have revised their notions of luxury and perfection. Newbegin captured the overall ruin of the resort in her views of the once majestic but now corroding buildings as well as individual rooms. After years of neglect the formerly extravagant curtains, wallpaper, and bedding are soiled and out of style. One of her most recent exhibitions, No Room Spaces: Behind the Scenes, at Galerie Open in Berlin explores the history of spaces. In her work rooms devoid of a human presence are endowed with meaning as the viewer is called upon to examine the space as it is captured in her photograph. Newbegin currently lives and works in New York and Berlin.
Born in 1969 in Blantyre, Malawi, Tim Davis is an American photographer and poet. Davis graduated from Bard College in 1991 with a bachelor of arts degree and in 2001 he received a master of fine arts degree from Yale University. In his most recent solo exhibition, The New Antiquity at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery in 2009, Davis builds upon his work taken during his time at the American Academy in Rome as a Rome Prize Fellow in 2007 to 2008. In his work Davis explores the everyday oddities and details that make up our experience of the world. His photographic work delves into formal aspects of photography (light and abstraction) as well as socially engaged documentary. Davis’s publications include The New Antiquity (Damiani 2010), My Life in Politics (Aperture 2006), Permanent Collection (Nazraeli Press 2005) and Lots (Coromandel Design 2002). In addition, he has published several books of his poetry including American Whatever (Aerial/Edgebooks 2004). Davis currently teaches at Bard College while living and working in New York City and Tivoli, New York.