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Looking Backward, Moving Forward: Women Photographers in the Hood's Collection


(above: Daniela Rossell, Harem, from the series Ricas y Famosas, 2001, C-print. Purchased through gifts from Charles W. Gaillard, Kenneth I. Reich, James and Susan Wright, Lee and Marguerite Berlin, Karen Berlin, Elizabeth Craig, Jan Seidler Ramirez, and the Class of 1952. Selected by participants in the Winter 2003 Hood Museum of Art Seminar: Sarah Bohlman, Jeffrey Cooperman, Joanne Kim, Amy Kurtz, Sarah Murray, Rolaine Ossman, Arielle Ring, Catherine Roberts, Emily Salas, Liz Serv, Eleanor Smith, Miell Y. Yi)


On view from June 12 to September 19, 2004 at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Looking Backward, Moving Forward: Women Photographers in the Hood's Collection showcases the Hood's commitment to giving students the opportunity to shape acquisitions and exhibitions. Megan Fontanella '04, curatorial intern, and Jennifer Schreck '04, special projects intern, worked closely with Hood Director Derrick Cartwright to choose the photographs featured in the exhibition.

Looking Backward, Moving Forward presents thirty-four nineteenth and twentieth century works by women photographers, including a recent acquisition selected for purchase by thirteen Dartmouth undergraduate students. Ms. Fontanella and Ms. Schreck will open Looking Backward, Moving Forward on Saturday, June 12, with an introductory tour at 12:30 P.M. (right: Julia Margaret Cameron, Unknown Woman from Portfolio of Twelve Victorian Photographs, number 1 of 12, albumen print. Anonymous gift; PH.967.96.1)

Looking Backward, Moving Forward highlights the Hood's dedication to creating opportunities for students to learn about museums from the inside out. Student curators Megan Fontanella '04 and Jennifer Schreck '04 chose the objects featured in the exhibition and used their research about each work to compose wall labels and an essay, which the Hood published in an illustrated brochure with generous funding from the Dartmouth Class of 1948.

Ms. Fontanella notes the unique nature of the opportunity, "Few museums would give undergraduate students access to over 65,000 works of art and fewer still would encourage students to engage in a thought-provoking study of that collection, pulling together pertinent art objects for an exhibition in a main gallery of the institution." As she prepares for the opening, she observes, "This experience has proved invaluable both professionally and personally. Not only have I developed curatorial knowledge, but I have also interacted with an entire range of professionals in the museum environment." Ms. Fontanella's experience fulfills the Hood's vision for the program. "This project represents the strongest conceivable collaboration between the professional staff of the Hood Museum of Art and two promising young scholars," Director Derrick Cartwright writes in the exhibition brochure. Acknowledging Ms. Schreck and Ms. Fontanella's scholarship, Mr. Cartwright credits the student curators for treating a previously "undervalued strength within Dartmouth's vast object collections." (right: Laura Gilpin, Canyon de Chelly, 1930, gelatin silver print. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Fisher, Class of 1932; PH.982.51.4 © 1979 Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, bequest of the artist)

Ms. Fontanella and Ms. Schreck use Looking Backward, Moving Forward to examine the recurring themes that link women photographers across the complex and varied terrain of photographic art. The exhibition encompasses photographic history from the daguerreotype image to contemporary representations such as Harem, from the series Ricas y Famosas, 2001, by Mexican artist Daniela Rossell-a work recently selected for acquisition by Dartmouth undergraduates.

Taking part in "Acquiring Great Art," a non-curricular course organized by Katie Putnam '04, the Hood's academic programming intern, thirteen students met twelve times to learn about the ethics, logistics, and strategies that influence the decision to purchase works of art. Led by Derrick Cartwright and Katherine Hart, Barbara C. and Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming, the course met for consecutive Monday evenings and culminated in the purchase of the Rossell photograph. "It was really exciting to play an active role in the acquisition process, and I can't think of a more stimulating way to introduce students to the museum world," Dartmouth sophomore Emily Salas '05 said after the course. "It was exciting to be studying something contemporary, as we felt like we were acquiring something new and fresh that would enrich and enliven the museum's permanent collection."

Harem will be exhibited for the first time at the Hood as part of Looking Backward, Moving Forward, sharing the limelight with other works by women photographers including Marion Post-Wolcott, Dorothea Lange, Janine Gordon, and Sally Mann. Featuring almost two hundred years of artistic production, Looking Backward, Moving Forward unites photography by women around the world and celebrates the reciprocal relationship between the Hood Museum of Art and the student community it serves. (right: Angele Etoundi Essamba, Noir #211, 2000, gelatin silver print. Purchased through the Alvin and Mary Bert Gutman 1940 Acquisition Fund; PH.2003.30. Courtesy of Skoto Gallery, NYC)


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