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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the November 7, 2001

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Women on Both Sides of the Camera

The first thing you’ll see upon entering the exhibition

"Camera Women" at the Art Museum, Princeton University, is

a set of six gelatin silver prints, six images from Mary Kelly’s

"Primapara:

Bathing Series" (1974). Each diminutive photograph shows us a

fragment of baby: a pair of eyes; moist lips; the perfect whorl of

a newborn ear; a crease of flesh. Kelly’s black-and-white

representations

are so soft and luminous you may think you smell the baby’s fragrant

flesh.

"Camera Women" is a small, selective survey show with a catchy

title. Housed in a single room, it traces the history of photography

almost from its invention in 1839, right through to the end of the

20th century, all from the perspective of the woman photographer.

Organized by art historian and Princeton faculty member Carol

Armstrong,

the show is designed to challenge us to think about women as artists

in general and photographers in particular, women as the subjects

of art, and — inevitably, if one is a woman — of women as

consumers of art.

Comprised of four walls of images, plus two surfaces of a freestanding

panel, the gallery becomes its own "Women’s Room" — a

gathering of many different kinds of work that come together in a

cacophonous conversation addressing all the vexing questions about

art and gender. Although you’ll find no consensus here about what

women in photography want, this throng of individualists appears to

be united by the throaty "hurrah!" it voices for the feminist

movement in art history. The product of bold ideas incubated in the

1960s, feminist art history has marched, for three decades now, under

the banner of Linda Nochlin’s gate-rattling 1971 essay, "Why Have

There Been No Great Women Artists?"

Nochlin’s essay, first published in Art News (and now anthologized

in Nochlin’s "Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays"), asked

its deceptively simple and deliberately provocative question at a

time when H. W. Janson’s notorious 1960s edition of "History of

Art," a 600-page survey of the field dating back roughly to the

dawn of time — included myriad images of women but just one woman

artist. "The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our

menstrual

cycles, or our empty internal spaces," wrote Nochlin at the end

of the 1960s, "but in our institutions and our education —

education understood to include everything that happens to us from

the moment we enter this world of meaningful symbols, signs, and

signals."

This small show will be harnessed to Nochlin’s imposing wagon when

she comes to Princeton to open a conference of some 18 leading women

art historians, "Women Artists at the Millennium," on November

9 and 10, with a talk titled "`Why Have There Been No Great Women

Artists?’ Thirty Years Later." Among those sharing the two-day

meeting will be British artist Mary Kelly, whose "Post-Partum

Document," a multimedia record of the first six years in the life

of her son (1973-97), has been as influential as Nochlin’s text. Other

participating artists include Ann Hamilton and Yvonne Rainer, and

theorists Griselda Pollock, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, and Anna Chave.

That the "Camera Women" show includes such

"high-profile"

figures as Julia Margaret Cameron, Gertrude Kasebier, and Diane Arbus,

says much about photography’s special position in the art world.

"Due

to photography’s relative youth, . . . its less entrenched

institutions,

and the less fixed nature of its canon, the female photographer has

had the occasional entry-permit into the pantheon of `Great

Photography’

as well as into the back rooms of everyday photography, issued to

her since the very beginning," explains Marta Weiss in the

introduction

to the show’s smart and sleek accompanying catalog. Photography has

offered fertile ground for women, and almost 200 individual women

photographers are represented in Princeton’s permanent collection,

much of it collected under the guidance of faculty curator Peter C.

Bunnell. In this show that begins with England’s 19th-century

"Lady

Amateurs," you’ll also find such contemporary photographers as

Nan Goldin, Lorna Simpson, and Cindy Sherman, widely recognized as

among America’s most celebrated artists working in any genre.

"But why are all the women in one room?" is the familiar

plaint

that inevitably accompanies ventures like "Camera Women."

Yet in the context of the traditional male claim to

"universality,"

Armstrong’s experimental ghetto deliberately seeks to shine a light

on the relationship between the sex of the artist and the gendering

(or not) of her work. Yes, women were behind the camera, often

directing

their authorial gaze at other women. Yet the show reminds us that

the woman viewer — now as in the 19th century — is also

positioned

differently from the male. And for the woman viewer, there’s

indisputably

pleasure to be taken in the recognition of shared experience, social

codes, and the tireless battling of limits and boundaries.

One of photography’s earliest woman practitioners, Anna Atkins, has

pride of place in the show with her cameraless cyanotype of 1854.

"Asplenium Braziliense, S. America," from Atkins’ unique album

of botanical images, is an image of two sprays of fern. It was created

by placing a plant specimen on light-sensitized paper which was then

exposed to sunlight. Whereas a botanical illustrator — or Atkins

herself, if she pleased — might select a couple of unblemished

fern fronds, Atkins’s are closely observed and highly specific. These

ferns aren’t of the manufactured variety: we see new growth on the

tip of one; old growth on the other that emanates from a crumpled

stem.

One of the greatest pleasures of a good museum is its capacity to

bring us close to "the real thing." Such is the jolt of Julia

Margaret Cameron’s "Elaine" (1875), an albumen print tipped

in to Princeton’s venerable edition of her vision "Tennyson’s

Idylls of the King and Other Poems." Displayed in a freestanding

case is the original home-produced volume, which Cameron illustrated

with her posed pictures of friends, family, and household staff, all

envisioned in a Pre-Raphaelite vein. On the wall, and equally powerful

in address, is Cameron’s portrait of Sir John Herschel (1867),

scientist,

experimenter, and co-inventor of some of photography’s founding

practices.

Cameron shows us this grizzled "Gentleman Amateur" sporting

a mop of white hair above a furrowed brow, bushy eyebrows, all framing

the man’s mesmerizing pale, moist eyes.

No all women wanted to tread their own path. By the turn of the

century,

Anne Brigman’s untitled nude with glass globe of 1910 seems to answer

one of the show’s key gender questions. It tells us that women’s

images

of female nudes with glass bubbles look pretty much the same as the

guys’ images of nudes with glass bubbles — pretty silly.

Margaret Bourke-White, revered as a documentary photo essayist, is

customarily represented in museums by black and white images that

are fairly grand. In a display case here she’s represented by the

real thing: A copy of Life magazine containing a complement of her

pictures. Although they may appear to be reproduced too small,

cropped,

and with captions that intrude, this choice is an apt reminder that

Bourke-White was also revered by other women for successfully earning

her living doing work she loved.

No matter where you try to look in this room of "Camera

Women,"

photographer Lisette Model wins my award for bravery hands down. She’s

not about to let you leave this show without encountering what a woman

can be — "Coney Island, Standing" — and enjoying it.

This vintage "bathing beauty" is a big cheerful woman who

poses in a bent knee stance, hands braced on knees, giving optimum

exposure to a cleavage that knows no bounds. Model, who immigrated

from Vienna to New York in 1938, taught at the New School where Diane

Arbus was one of her students. The lineage is unmistakable.

"Camera Women" evolved out of Armstrong’s seminar, "Women

in Photography" that set out to interrogate photographs first

hand, asking how a history of women photographers might differ from

the history of photography as it is usually told. (For one answer

to this particular question, step across the hall to "What

Photographs

Look Like," Peter Bunnell’s annual teaching show that has only

one women in its ranks this year, Gertrude Kasebier, a portraitist

with an interest in manipulating photographic images in the style

of many of the painters of her day.) And how women are placed in the

world is an overriding theme.

Nan Goldin’s now classic image of a young couple making out is

characteristic

of her apparent ability to become invisible while she photographically

documents the emotional landscape in which she has placed herself.

Eileen Cowin’s patently artificial tableau that hangs nearby seems

like Goldin’s absolute complement. This 1981 image of an anxious woman

seated on the side of a bed in which a man still sleeps, while someone

standing between her and us (the camera) — someone who could well

be the same woman dressed in street clothes — looks on. She seems

to be standing interrogating herself. Surely many female viewers will

recognize, intuitively, the stepping outside of oneself (particularly

when men and beds are concerned) and asking "What am I doing

here?"

Cowin’s effortless sleight of hand says it all.

— Nicole Plett

Camera Women, Art Museum, Princeton University,

609-258-3788. On view to January 6. The exhibition will then travel

to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, January 25

through March 24. Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.

to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Women Artists at the Millennium, Princeton

University,

101 McCormick Hall, 609-258-1835. A two-day conference co-sponsored

by the Program in the Study of Women and Gender and the Department

of Art and Archaeology. Free. Friday and Saturday, November 9 and

10.

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Art in Town

Chapin School, 4101 Princeton Pike, 609-924-7206. Annual

show featuring six children’s book illustrators: Jeffrey Allon

("Ten

Best Jewish Children’s Stories"), Katya Arnold ("The

Adventures

of Snow Woman"), Bob Byrd ("Finn McCoul and his Fearless

Wife),

Katie Davis ("Who Hops?"), Thomas F. Yetzerski ("Perfect

Puppy"),

and Mary Zisk ("The Best Single Mom in the World") are

featured.

Open by appointment during school hours. To November 9.

Marsha Child Contemporary, 220 Alexander Street,

609-497-7330.

"The Secret Garden," a solo show of mystical oil paintings

and watercolors by Ukrainian-born Valeriy Skrypka. Open Tuesday to

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To November 24.

Skrypka was born in the Ukraine in 1964, the son of a non-conformist

painter and Soviet dissident. He received a rigorous classical

training

at the Ukrainian Academy in Kiev, but broke with tradition as he

developed

his own style that draws on realism, surrealism, Byzantine, and

Ukrainian

folk traditions.

Firebird Gallery, 16 Witherspoon Street, 609-688-0775.

Exhibit of works by Leonid Gervitz, a graduate of the Odessa Art

College

who spent 24 years working and teaching in the Russian realist

tradition

at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia. Open Tuesday

to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday to 9 p.m.; Sunday

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To December 1.

Cranbury Station Gallery, 28 Palmer Square East,

Princeton,

609-921-0434. Oil paintings by New Jersey artist Cynthia A. Dawley.

Open Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday,

10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. To November 11.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158

Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "Today’s News, Tomorrow’s

History,"

a show celebrating 18,000 photographs taken by the Princeton Packet’s

photographers and donated to the Historical Society’s permanent

collection.

Show runs to March, 2002.

Medical Center at Princeton, 253 Witherspoon Street,

609-497-4192.

Paintings by Calvin Cobb Hart. Part of sales benefit the Medical

Center.

On view in the dining room daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. To November

21.

Triumph Brewing Company, 138 Nassau Street, 609-924-7855.

"Artista Cuba," contemporary Cuban folk art from the

collection

of Jorge Armenteros who has been studying and collecting Cuban art

since 1996. Works from the fine art world as well as rustic art made

of found materials. "At its best, Cuban folk art is vivid,

symbolic,

sensual, and inspiring. In it, you will find a purity of appreciation

for light, color, and life’s simple pleasures," says Armenteros.

Williams Gallery, 16-1/2 Witherspoon Street, 609-921-1142.

"Sights and Sounds of Manhattan and Princeton," a group show

featuring art by Michael Berger, Laury Egan, David Leibowitz, Allan

Tannenbaum, and Rolf Weijburg." Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday,

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To November 20.

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Campus Arts

Lawrenceville School, Gruss Center of Visual Arts,

Lawrenceville,

609-620-6026. Annual faculty exhibit featuring Brian Daniell, Jamie

Greenfield, Amanda Kamen, Ed Robbins, Allen Fitzpatrick, Leonid

Siveriver,

William Vandever, and others. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday,

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; except Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.

To November 16.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Unlimited Possibilities: Jacob

Landau

Works on Paper, 1950 to 2000." The internationally-known

illustrator,

printmaker, painter, and stained glass designer is professor emeritus

at the Pratt Institute. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 8:30

a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. To December 7.

Rider University Art Gallery, Student Center, Route 206,

Lawrenceville, 609-895-5589. "Leland Bell: Works from the 1950s

to 1991," an exhibition of works by the New York School artist

who died in 1991. "Bell was a powerful artist who was also an

influential teacher and popular lecturer," says Rider professor

Deborah Rosenthal. "He clearly articulated the role of tradition

in art, particularly contemporary art. Bell strongly affected a

younger

generation of artists, many of whom became his close friends."

Gallery hours at Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday to Sunday,

2 to 5 p.m. To December 11.

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Art In Trenton

Artworks, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, 609-394-9436.

"Mill

Hill: Art from the Hill," an exhibition celebrating Mill Hill

residents with artwork by Ann and Jim Carlucci, Victoria Cattanea,

Peter Crandall, Andre Daughtry, Lisa Fullemann, Pierre Jaborska, Lisa

and Peter Kasabach, and others. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to

4 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton,

609-292-6464. "George Washington and the Battle of Trenton: The

Evolution of an American Image," an exhibition that documents

the historic context of the American Revolution, the "Ten Crucial

Days" of the Trenton campaign and the subsequent commemoration

of George Washington’s heroic image by American artists.

Also "American Indians as Artists: The Beginnings of the State

Museum’s Ethnographic Collection," to December 15. "Natural

Selections: Sculpture by Elaine Lorenz," to December 30. Tuesday

through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Website:

www.njstatemuseum.org.

Rhinehart-Fischer Gallery, 46 West Lafayette, Trenton,

609-695-0061. Albert Wilking’s "expressionist primitive"

acrylic

paintings. His inspiration comes from personal experiences, dreams,

and visual, physical, and spiritual insights. Wednesday to Saturday,

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To December 2.

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Area Galleries

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, 609-333-8511.

"Still Life Manipulations," Sabatier photographs by Marilyn

Anderson, and "Windows, Water & Wonders," hand-painted and

digital photographs by Rhoda Kassof Isaac. Gallery hours are Saturday,

Noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. To November 25.

Hopewell Frame Shop, 24 West Broad Street, Hopewell,

609-466-0817.

Show by nine artists of The Art Group, formed in 1992. Shop hours

are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To November 10.

Morpeth Gallery, 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell,

609-333-9393.

"Big Skies," a shared show featuring landscape paintings by

David Shevlino and Lisa Grossman. Shevlino’s landscapes are inspirited

by the New England and Delaware Valley, whereas Grossman depicts the

flatlands of the Midwest. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6

p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To November 17.

Printmaking Council of New Jersey, 440 River Road, North

Branch Station, 908-725-2110. The 27th annual juried members show,

juried by Lynne Allen, director of the Rutgers Center for Innovative

Print and Paper. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m.

to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To December 21

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, 31 Titus Mill Road,

Pennington,

609-737-7592. "Sense of Place," an exhibition featuring the

fine art and illustrative photography of Phil Moylan, Andy Chen, Marc

Stempel, and George Vogel. To November 10.

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Art in the Workplace

Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Route 206, Lawrenceville,

609-252-6275. "Up the River," an exhibition of works by more

than 40 Bucks County Impressionists and Modernists, members of the

New Hope and Bucks County art colony now regarded as national

treasures.

Catalog by Brian Peterson of the Michener Museum in Doylestown.

Gallery

hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and weekends and

holidays,

1 to 5 p.m. To November 25.

Artists represented include Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber, Walter

Schofield, Charles Ramsey, Louis Stone, Charles Evans, and Lloyd Ney.

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville,

609-259-3502.

Garden State Watercolor Society, fifth annual associate member juried

exhibition; jurors Gary Snyder and Seow-Chu See. Open Monday to

Friday,

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To November 29.

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Art by the River

Atelier Gallery, 108 Harrison Street, Frenchtown,

908-996-9992.

"Chaos and Crossroads" featuring paintings by Florence Moonan

and sculptures by Jonathan Hertzel. Gallery is open Thursday to

Sunday,

noon to 5 p.m. To November 12.

Robert Beck Painting Studio, 21 Bridge Street,

Lambertville,

609-397-5679. "Road Work: Paintings of American Culture,"

an exhibition of new work by Robert Beck. Through November.

Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville,

609-397-0804.

Fall show featuring Mike Filipiak, John Loeper, and Harriet

Ermentrout.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To November 11.

Hanga, 12 West Mechanic Street, New Hope, 215-862-7044.

James T. Lang, lithographs, colographs, and mixed-media works on

exhibit

in the Artworks Building. Gallery is open noon to 9 p.m. daily.

Old English Pine, 202 North Union Street, Lambertville,

609-397-4978. "Apropos," Malcolm Bray’s seventh annual show

of innovative contemporary painting and sculpture. Artists include

Rachel Bliss, Malcolm Bray, Jacques Fabert, Michael Hale, Diane

Levell,

Bonnie MacLean, Dolores Poacelli, Barry Snyder, Patricia Traub, and

Annelies van Dommelen. Hung upstairs above the antique showroom, show

is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to December 31.

Tin Man Alley, 12 West Mechanic Street, New Hope,

215-862-1110.

"Monster Mash," a show of creepy snarling, and bug-eyed

creates

by Dave Burke and Stephen Blickenstaff. Website: www.tinmanalley.net.

Gallery hours are Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To November

26.

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Theater Guide

New Jersey Theater Alliance has published the 2001-2002

edition of "Class Act," a resource guide with educational and outreach

programming highlighted. To receive a free copy, call 973-593-0189 or

e-mail: (njtg@nj.com).

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Donations

Crisis Ministry is accepting donations of coats of all

sizes. Collections are at Nassau Presbyterian and Trinity Episcopal

Churches in Princeton on Sunday, November 11, from 9 a.m. to 3

p.m. Call 609-396-9355.

Mercer Street Friends is accepting donations of turkeys

from now until Thursday, November 15. They may be brought to

offices at 1321 Brunswick Avenue or 151 Mercer Street, Trenton,

Mondays through Saturdays. Call 609-396-1506.

Crisis Ministry is holding a Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Collections from Princeton United Methodist, Unitarian Church of

Princeton, and Trinity Episcopal Churches in Princeton, will be sorted

and shelved on Sunday, November 18, from noon to 5 p.m. at 123

East Hanover Street in Trenton. Call 609-396-9355.

East Brunswick Public Library is collecting new hardcover

and paperback books as well as monetary contributions for the "Books

to Keep" program to give books to disadvantaged children in Middlesex

County. Donations may be brought to any library in Middlesex Country

through Saturday, December 15. Call 732-390-6789.

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Participate Please

CancerCare of New Jersey is recruiting members for a free

cancer support group. "Living with Cancer" brings together cancer

patients, families, and friends to share experience, solutions, and

concerns. The group will meet at Momentum Fitness, 377 Wall Street,

Princeton. Call Lois Glasser at 800-813-4673, ext. 107.


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