Rochester, NY—Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum as well as one of the largest film archives in the United States. Located on the National Historic Landmark estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the museum released its 2021 exhibition calendar.
George Eastman Museum 2021 Exhibition Calendar
February 4, 2021–June 20, 2021: Carl Chiarenza: Journey into the Unknown
Throughout his career, Carl Chiarenza (American, b. 1935) has demonstrated that photographs can provide much more than documentary evidence. Rather than create straightforward records of the cast-off materials that appear before his camera, Chiarenza photographically transforms them into new and provocative images. Subsequently, his photographs often bear little resemblance to their actual subjects. Instead, they suggest mysterious worlds that viewers are invited to explore.
This retrospective exhibition spans the Rochester-based artist’s entire career. It begins with early photographs Chiarenza made as a high school student in Rochester in the 1950s. It then concludes with a large selection of his most recent work in collage.
Furthermore, the exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to follow the continuities and ruptures in Chiarenza’s artistic journey as his career enters its seventh decade. The exhibit is supported by the Rubens Family Foundation.
February 5, 2021–January 2, 2022: One Hundred Years Ago: George Eastman in 1921
An annual display in the historic mansion provides a glimpse of George Eastman’s life and work 100 years ago. The new selection of objects details the goings–on in 1921. It starts with the settlement of the long-running lawsuit between the U.S. government and Kodak. It also includes the company’s founding of Eastman Savings & Loan (today, ESL Federal Credit Union) to help employees save and purchase homes.
Eastman also spent the year focused on Rochester, diving into the local government and economy. What’s more he ran a tonsil clinic for area children and continued construction on the Eastman Theatre, which finally opened in 1922. Visitors will see original objects from the collection related to these and other aspects of Eastman’s life in 1921. The exhibition is on view throughout the year in the sitting room. Moreover, it is sponsored by St. John’s.
February 19, 2021–June 6, 2021: Stacey Steers: Night Reels
Night Reels is a multidisciplinary body of work by the artist Stacey Steers (American, b. 1954). The work blends 2D paper collage, animation as well as mixed-media sculpture. Steers pays homage to the history of moving images while inventing entirely original cinematic works that transport familiar characters and imagery into surreal nocturnal dreamscapes.
Furthermore, each of Steers’s meticulously crafted animated collage films excise characters from early film history. Phantom Canyon (2006) follows human figures from Eadweard Muybridge’s pre-cinema motion studies as they encounter groups of insects, fish, bats and other strange creatures of the night.
Night Hunter (2011) features a mesmerizing performance from silent cinema star Lillian Gish. Steers lifted her from original films and recast her in a disquieting domestic phantasy. In addition, in Edge of Alchemy (2017), silent film icons Janet Gaynor and Mary Pickford’s images are brought together to perform in a surprising new twist on the Frankenstein story. This exhibition, which brings together all of the Night Reels works, is the first presentation of its kind in the eastern U.S.
April 2, 2021–October 3, 2021: Selections from the Collection
Since the nineteenth century, photographs have depicted people enjoying themselves—playing with dolls or a game of chess; riding bicycles; frolicking on the beach. This rotation of photographs from the museum’s collection demonstrates that play is as essential a theme in the medium’s history as it is in our lives.
The selection includes works by Clarence H. White (American, 1871–1925) and Evan Baden (American, b. Saudi Arabia, b. 1985). Their works illustrate the impact of technology on gaming. What’s more, photographs by Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009) and Terry Evans (American, b. 1944) portray pastimes in urban and rural environments. Finally, pictures by Gordon Parks (American, 1912–2006) and Aaron Siskind (American, 1903–1991) present scenes inside places dedicated to diversion. Sponsored by St. John’s.
July 9–October 10, 2022: Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory
Bea Nettles explores the narrative potential of photography through constructed images often made with alternative photographic processes. The first large-scale retrospective of her 50-year career, the exhibit demonstrates the celebrated artist’s experimental approaches to art making.
Combining craft and photography, Nettles’s work makes use of wide-ranging tools as well as materials. They include fabric and stitching, Instamatic cameras, the book format, and manually applied color as well as hand-coated photographic emulsions.
Her imagery also evokes metaphors that reference key stages in the lives of women, often with autobiographic undertones. In addition, her key motifs draw upon mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, aging as well as the passage of time.
July 18, 2021- January 2, 2022: To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults
For more than five years, photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States. They were seeking individuals whose experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class and also geographic location. Dugan and Fabbre moved from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of transgender and gender nonconforming older adults.
Furthermore, the project’s participants have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last 90 years. As a result, they offer an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States.
A companion publication, To Survive on This Shore, was published as a hardcover book by Kehrer Verlag in 2018. This exhibition was organized by Barrett Barrera Projects.
October 29, 2021–Spring 2022: Joshua Rashaad McFadden: I Believe I’ll Run On
Artist Joshua Rashaad McFadden (American, b. 1990) uses photography to engage some of the most challenging subject matter of our time. Working across genres—social documentary, reportage, portraiture, book arts, and fine arts—he critically examines race, masculinity, sexuality and gender in the United States. Additionally, his work reveals the destructive impact of these constructs on Black Americans.
Looking to the idea of “being-ness,” he considers the contemporary condition of Black life; he does so while referencing U.S. history as a means to rediscover and define the Black self. In the end, McFadden’s practice asserts the humanity of Black Americans.
Moreover, the exhibit is an early-career survey of the artist’s work. It will focus on the series Selfhood, Come to Selfhood, A Lynching’s Long Shadow, After Selma, Evidence as well as Unrest in America. finally, premiering at the George Eastman Museum, the exhibit will present the autobiographical series Love Without Justice.
Ongoing: From the Camera Obscura to the Revolutionary Kodak
This three-part exhibition explores early photographic processes through cameras and related equipment from the museum’s collections. The arc of the exhibition starts with a walk-in camera obscura, providing a unique view of the historic West Garden.
Making Photographs: The First 50 Years explores the development of daguerreotype, wet-plate and dry-plate photography. In addition, the Revolutionary Kodak showcases the new system of photography that Eastman introduced to the world. It highlights both the evolution of the camera’s first decade and the snapshots its various models captured.
The George Eastman Museum’s holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs; 28,000 motion picture films; the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology; as well as one of the leading libraries related to photography and cinema. It also contains an extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman.
Further, as a research and teaching institution, the museum has an active publishing program. Also, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, it makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and photographic preservation and collection management.