The Subtle Power of Photographs: A Private Collection
Aug 14, 2020 – Jan 10, 2021
Since its invention, photography has played a critical role in recording the world. Consider the number of photographic images you view each day in print, on TV, on your phone, and online; the images in this gallery were all taken in the pre-digital era. The artists in The Subtle Power of Photographs: A Private Collection have been variously labeled photojournalists, documentarians, pictorialists, or fine art photographers. Each artist utilized the camera to evoke emotion, capturing subtle tonal concerns, interesting compositions, and the juxtaposition of light and shadow. The works offer an opportunity to trace a timeline of interconnectedness within the history of photography: who influenced or studied with whom, and how each artist infused new elements into the medium.
This collection, thoughtfully shaped by Walter and Sally Rugaber, spans over one hundred years from the mid-19th century through the 1960s Civil Rights era and beyond. The works on view capture street scenes of old Paris and the grand architectural plans of British cathedrals; children laboring in factories; scenes of rural America; sensitive portraits of Depression-era farmers, miners, and their families; and Civil Rights era sit-ins. These are interspersed with laconic still lifes, quiet portraits, and hauntingly beautiful “sense of place” landscapes. Many artists in this collection used images to address social justice issues. All are images of wonderment, beauty, and discord where the banal becomes a fascinating slice of life and simplicity is celebrated.
Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990), Wife of unemployed coal miner, suffering from T.B., living in old company store, Marine, West Virginia (detail), 1938, Gelatin silver print, Collection of Walter and Sally Rugaber, Photo by Kyra Schmidt
Peter Sekaer (1901-1950), Two Men Sitting in Front of the Christian Sunlight Nonsectarian Mission, New Orleans (detail), c. 1939, Gelatin silver print, Collection of Walter and Sally Rugaber, Photo by Kyra Schmidt
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Sit-in, Atlanta, with the SNCC Staff (detail), 1964, Vintage contact print, Collection of Walter and Sally Rugaber, Photo by Kyra Schmidt
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Country store on dirt road, Sunday afternoon, Gordonton, North Carolina (detail), 1939, Gelatin silver print, Collection of Walter and Sally Rugaber, Photo by Kyra Schmidt
Lewis Hine, (1874-1940), Adolescent Girls in Bibb Mill #1, Macon, Georgia (detail), January 1909, Gelatin silver print, Collection of Walter and Sally Rugaber, Photo by Kyra Schmidt