"A Generous Medium" Showcases 40 Years of Photography Acquisitions

September 24, 2012

The Davis's recently opened exhibit of photographs from its permanent collection, "A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley 1972-2012," has won admiring reviews from the Boston Globe's Mark Feeney, and from ArtDaily.

More than simply displaying the photos it owns, the Davis honors and investigates the extraordinary legacy of collecting and pedagogical leadership in photography at Wellesley College.

Mined from the extensive photographic holdings, the show features more than 130 works selected for interpretation by more than 60 participants—Davis directors and curators, Wellesley faculty, alumnae in the field, and major donors—all of whom have had an instrumental role in the shape and pedagogical use of the collection over the last 40 years. The selections are organized unconventionally, by date of acquisition, to allow for serendipitous and revealing juxtapositions, surprising connections, and startling revelations.

Reviewer Mark Feeney appreciated that and noted a few examples of serendipitous clusters of subjects, be they maids or trees.

The pictures range from anonymous early photographs to works by renowned contemporary artists. This diversity reflects an impassioned conversation over time, and the aspirations and exuberant inventiveness of the photographic project at Wellesley writ large. The project is infused not only by the personal and professional passions of the contributors but also by the endless interpretive opportunities these pictures create.

As Feeney said, "The college has done well by photography."