Toughened to Wind and Sun
Women Photographing the Landscape
Aug 10, 2019 – Mar 8, 2020
During the early twentieth century, Pictorialist photographer Anne Brigman regularly hiked and camped in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, photographing the rugged landscape with her 4 x 5-inch view camera. She later recalled, “I slowly found my power with the camera among the junipers and tamarack pines of the high, storm-swept altitudes.” Toughened to Wind and Sun explores more than a century of landscape photographs created by more than thirty women. Drawn almost entirely from the Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition celebrates a critical, vibrant, and underrepresented aspect of photographic history.
During the mid-nineteenth century, when photography first became possible for a wide range of practitioners, civil laws and social expectations shaped women’s behavior, and relegated them largely to the space of the home and garden. Although women were active in photography from the medium’s earliest period, the terrain beyond the home was the purview of male photographers. Images of hard-to-reach scenic wonders made by men continue to influence our understanding of landscape photography and punctuate its history. Yet, by the turn of the twentieth century, women were making frequent and significant contributions to this area of photographic practice. In Toughened to Wind and Sun, works by Oregon’s own Myra Albert Wiggins and Lily E. White demonstrate an early and expansive regional as well as world view, while Sara Cwynar, Wendy Red Star, and Penelope Umbrico push the boundaries – whether physical or conceptual – of landscape photography today.
Organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Julia Dolan, Ph.D., The Minor White Curator of Photography.