Advanced Open Studio Photography student Ella Dooling '22 became a museum curator this summer. The artist took her love of photography a step beyond the work she'd done in her photography classes at Brooks and created a virtual exhibition of "A Show of Hands," from the Collection of Henry M. Buhl '48 for the Robert Lehman Art Center.
Brooks' exhibit of framed photographs devoted to the subject of the hand — given to Brooks by the Cygnet Foundation — has been hanging on display on campus since September 3, and though the exhibit closes on Friday, everyone can still get a sense of the compelling pieces at any time, no matter where they are in the world, thanks to Dooling.
"It's really cool just seeing the different styles of the artists — and all in one place," said the student about the exhibit, featuring photographs from Buhl's collection of images, furnishings, sculptures, books and objects gathered over the course of 20 years, inspired initially by an Alfred Stieglitz photograph of artist Georgia O'Keefe's hands that he purchased in 1993. Ultimately, Buhl's private collection grew to feature more than 1,000 images.
To create the virtual exhibit, Dooling spent a week this summer going through images, putting pieces up on display in the Lehman, researching and writing descriptions of each work and then building a virtual display of it all in Adobe Spark, including related video.
"Focusing on the theme of the hand, Buhl has gathered images spanning the history of photography, from a photogenic drawing negative made in 1840 by William Henry Fox Talbot to serial Polaroids made in 2002 by Cornelia Parker," she noted in the information displayed in the virtual exhibit.
"The Buhl Collection's theme of the hand illuminates the very nature of photography, as well as unique aspects of collecting photographs," she also noted in the exhibit details.
Curating the virtual exhibit gave Dooling, who has already completed an AP Photography independent course at Brooks, added appreciation for the variety of pieces in Buhl's collection. "There are a lot of different mediums in the exhibit, which is really cool," she said. "He has stuff that's printed on glass and metal, which is something I haven't seen a lot of."
Her favorites? "I like the cover photo a lot and the one that's similar to that," Dooling said describing Gregory Heisler's 1987 gelatin silver print of Luis Sarria, masseur to Muhammad Ali, and referring to Klaus Laubmayer's "Holding Face" 1991 photograph of Margaux Hemingway. "They're very clear and I just like the lighting and the way it hits their faces."
Everyone, though, can find something to enjoy in both the virtual exhibit and the display currently hanging in the Lehman Art Center. "We get exposed to a lot of different media, especially art and photography [online], but you don't generally see one curated subject of this high-quality art and the range of backgrounds that the artists have," Dooling insisted. "Seeing that all in one spot is really important."
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