We got a sneak peek at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s new exhibition of photography last week. What a treat! Exploring the always-interesting terrain of the portrait, this collection of more than 100 photographs reveals an infinite range of human complexities and contradictory states of the heart and the mind.
Keep an eye out for Nicolas Nixon‘s series on the Brown sisters, Seasons’ photographer Nell Campbell‘s work (she photographed the story on the Santa Barbara Greek Festival in our summer issue) and my personal favorite, Tomoko Sawada‘s ID 400 series in which she miraculously transforms herself into 400 different personas.
The exhibition is presented in nine themes, including basic portraiture (Clarence Sinclair Bull’s Greta Garbo in “Mata Hari,” 1931), environmental (Morris Camhi’s Young Man with Union Brochure, Farmworkers, 1972) and documentary (Irving Penn’s Balloon Seller, Paris (Marchande de Ballons, Paris), 1950).
As Curator of Photography Karen Sinsheimer so eloquently explains, the exhibit delves into the complex relationships between the photographer and the subject as well as the third member of the triad, the viewer. These three points of view also come into play with the new media component of the exhibition: each photograph has a call in code where you can use your cell to get some additional illumination on the story from a variety of sources, ranging from the photographers and subjects themselves, to academic and historical experts, other artists and everyday viewers of the exhibition. It’s really a fun and enlightening way to integrate technology into the exhibit.
I’ll definitely be back–cell phone in hand–to continue to dig into this interesting show, which runs through September 16.