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Maier Presents 94th Annual Exhibition Documenting Poetry: Contemporary Latin American Photography

News coverage of event

2/23/2005 3:24:27 PM

   

The following story appeared in the Sunday, February 20, 2005 edition of The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Virginia, and is reprinted with permission.

By Beth Rodriguez / Lynchburg News & Advance

February 21, 2005


A kerchiefed woman stands, her face half-shadowed, while a man with a cigar approaches her from behind.

In another scene, a chair sits facing a wall, thorns rising up from the seat.

Both scenes are depicted in photographs featured in the 94th Annual Exhibition at Randolph-Macon Woman's College's Maier Museum, "Documenting Poetry: Contemporary Latin American Photography."

The annual exhibit is one of the longest running series at an American college or university museum, according to Maier director Karol Lawson. The exhibitions were the idea of the college's first art professor, Louise Jordan Smith, who "wanted to bring contemporary art to the students," said Lawson. The collections displayed at the annual exhibits are always original to the museum and are curated either by the staff or special guest curators, she explained.

The museum is particularly proud of this year's guest curator, Anne Wilkes Tucker. Tucker is not only an R-MWC alumna, but also a curator of national repute, who was named "America's Best" by Time magazine in 2001. After graduating in 1967, Tucker went on to get a master's degree from the Visual Studies Workshop of the State University of New York at Buffalo, then took a full-time job as photography curator at Houston's Museumof Fine Artsin the mid-1970s. At the time, the Houstoncollection consisted of only a few hundred photographs. When she first arrived at the Museumof Fine Arts, "a lot of educating was necessary. People were not used to thinking of photography as an art form."

Under her guidance, however, Houston's collection has grown to about 20,000 works.

Due to the demands of her job, much of Tucker's work on the Maier exhibit - which features more than two dozen contemporary photographs - had to be done long distance, by conference calls, e-mails, and faxes with Maier's associate director, Ellen Agnew.

"I marvel at Anne's ability to conceptualize and put together a show without seeing the space," said Agnew.

Tucker credits her experience at R-MWC with developing her interest in and love of art. The young Louisiananative had had little exposure to the art world before coming to Virginia, and was "blown away" by a freshman-year trip to the National Gallery.

Tucker says R-MWC art professor Mary Frances Williams helped her understand the importance of placement in experiencing a work of art. During the 1960s, while Tucker was a student, the art collection was displayed throughout campus, and Williams was responsible for their placement.

"She thought carefully about where to put each piece,"

remembered Tucker, and about "how each work related to its environment."

Maier's associate director Agnew said many people take for granted the layout of an exhibition, but museum staff must take a variety of factors into account, such as size, color and spacing when designing a show.

"It's amazing how different a piece can look when you move it from one wall to another," she said.

From conception to the hanging of the photographs, this exhibition has been more than a year in the works. Agnew said a yearlong preparation is typical for the annual exhibit, as obtaining permission from artists and galleries for the use of the work and arranging shipping is a complicated process.

Only slightly easier is finding connections between the variety of artists featured in the exhibit.

In the exhibition catalog, Tucker notes that the diversity of histories, politics, ethnicities, and religions in Latin Americamake any connection between the different countries and peop



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