Daily Art Moment: Erika Stone

A vertical, rectangular, black-and-white photograph, featuring a young, light-skinned child at center. She leans, arms folded across her upper waist, on the inside of a patched and worn screen door, gazing through the screen and outside to the photographer/viewer. The interior space behind her is dark and without detail. The light gray door frame is seen along both the bottom and right edges of the image. A worn, chipped doorknob is on the door frame to the left of the figure at shoulder height. Her head is turned to the left, her chin touching her right shoulder. Her bobbed hair is chin-length with short, uneven bangs, and she wears a sleeveless, printed shirt. Dark areas appear on her mouth, nose and chin suggesting a scrape from a fall.

“This well-known photograph by Erika Stone is new to our permanent collection. Made in 1956, it echoes the present-day photographic trend of incorporating windows and doorways into portraits. These apertures provide access to people while also symbolizing boundaries or barriers. They protect the health of both artist and subject, highlight the current need for physical distance, and suggest emotional isolation.

In 1936 Erika Stone, who began making photographs with a Brownie camera at age ten, moved with her family from Germany to New York City to escape Nazi persecution. Although primarily self-taught, she studied photography with Berenice Abbott and George Tice at the New School for Social Research. In the 1940s she became a member of the Photo League, a progressive photography cooperative recognized for its members’ deep interest in social causes. After her children were born, Stone made childhood and family life her primary subjects and published books on photographic technique.”

Julia Dolan, The Minor White Curator of Photography

Erika Stone (German, born 1942). Girl Behind Screen Door, 1956. Gelatin silver print. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Photography Council, 2019.23.1

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