Rochester, N.Y. (June 15, 2021) — Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory will return to the George Eastman Museum this summer. This exhibition of photographic and book works originally opened on January 31, 2020, but just six weeks later, the museum closed due to COVID-19. While a virtual version was offered online, the Eastman Museum has brought back the exhibition of one-of-a-kind photographs for visitors to explore in person. It will reopen on Friday, July 9, and be on view through Sunday, October 10, in the museum’s main galleries.
Bea Nettles explores the narrative potential of photography through constructed images often made with alternative photographic processes. Combining craft and photography, Nettles’s work makes use of wide-ranging tools and materials, including fabric and stitching, instamatic cameras, the book format, manually applied color, and hand‐coated photographic emulsions. Her imagery evokes metaphors that reference key stages in a woman’s life, often with autobiographical undertones, and her key motifs draw upon mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, aging, and the passage of time.
Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory features more than 150 photographs and objects that represent the diversity of Nettles’s 50-year career. The museum has added some works to the exhibition that were not in the 2020 presentation, including Nettles’s most recent artist’s books. Published between 2018 and 2020, these three books explore the myth of Persephone, three tales of motherhood, and the artist’s chronicle of the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other works added to this iteration include photographs made while Nettles was a university student that show her early use of textiles and printing techniques in combination with photographs.
Nettles has taught photography since 1970. Her classic alternative processes textbook, Breaking the Rules: A Photo Media Cookbook (1977; repr. 1987 and 1999), has influenced two generations of readers. She has delivered lectures and workshops internationally and is recognized for her innovations in mixed media photography. The George Eastman Museum holds a large collection of her work, and her images can be found in the collections of other major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; and the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ. Her artist’s books are included in special collections libraries at numerous museums and universities. She has received two National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowships and grants from the New York and Illinois state arts councils.
To accompany the exhibition, the George Eastman Museum and University of Texas Press have published a 200+-page book that provides a survey of Bea Nettles’s groundbreaking mixed-media photography. The catalogue presents the most up-to-date scholarship on Nettles, with essays by the exhibition co-curators Jamie M. Allen, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Associate Curator, Department of Photography, George Eastman Museum; Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, former director, the Sheldon Art Galleries; and Amy L. Powell, curator of modern and contemporary art, Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; as well as additional texts by Nettles herself. The volume is illustrated with examples from all of Nettles’s major series to date, including her photographic and book works. The exhibition catalogue is available in the Museum Shop, on-site or online at eastman.org/shop.
Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory was co-organized by the George Eastman Museum and the Sheldon Art Galleries, St. Louis.T
he exhibition is generously supported by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Rubens Family Foundation, and Susan and Nathan Robfogel, and made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the George Eastman Museum
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active book publishing program, and its L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation’s graduate program (in collaboration with the University of Rochester) makes critical contributions to film preservation. For more information, visit eastman.org.
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Media Contact: Eliza Kozlowski