Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed December 20, 1996
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

Bell Gallery to present Still Time: Sally Mann photography exhibition

Still Time: Sally Mann, a retrospective exhibition of 60 photographs taken over 25 years, will be presented by the David Winton Bell Gallery of Brown University, from Feb. 1 to March 9, 1997.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The David Winton Bell Gallery will present Still Time: Sally Mann, a retrospective exhibition of photographs by American artist Sally Mann, from Feb. 1 to March 9, 1997. The artist will discuss her work on Monday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m., in the List Art Center Auditorium, 64 College St., in Providence.

Still Time features 60 photographs from several series ranging from 1971 to 1996. Included are Mann's powerful and well-known series At Twelve and Immediate Family and lesser-known landscapes, still lifes and portraits, many of which are executed in platinum, Cibachrome or Polaroid. The exhibition ends with large-scale landscapes that currently occupy the photographer's time. A catalogue printed by Stinehour Press and published by Aperture accompanies the show.

At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women is a revealing collective portrait of girls on the verge of adulthood. Like all of Mann's work the series was photographed in Rockbridge County, Virginia, (near Lexington) where she grew up and where she intends always to live. A sense of place pervades Mann's images. She describes the area as one of "rare serenity and innocence" and continues, "the same conservatism that has so gracefully preserved this land in a near time-warp has also, to a certain extent, retarded our awareness of the outside world." In this close-knit community, where Mann's father was the respected local doctor, the artist is accorded a level of trust which may seem unusual to some. With the cooperation of these young girls and their families, she portrays the dichotomies of this precarious age, the sweetness and the impending realities - the only girl on a boy's softball team, a young girl in her first formal dress, a girl pictured with her mother's boyfriend (who Mann later learned was molesting her).

Of equal intensity are the works that are united in Immediate Family. Begun in 1984 (one year after At Twelve), the series documents the growth of Mann's children over more than 10 years. Emmett, Jessie and Virginia, who have become familiar figures to thousands of viewers who they will never meet, are growing up in much the same way as their mother did. In her compelling introduction to Immediate Family, Mann discusses the constancy of her birthplace and her history - the women for whom her daughters are named and her eccentric father who decorated the gardens with carvings of tree gods.

Still Time allows for a rare insight into the development of Mann's art both before and after these momentous series. Sally Mann's career in photography began in 1969 when she took her first shots while at Vermont Putney School. She studied with Norman Sieff at Bennington College and received her B.A. and M.A. from Hollins College in her native Virginia. From this time on, Mann's pictures take on a diaristic quality, reflecting stages of her life as an artist and mother. The earliest works in the exhibition are part of her first series, Dream Sequence (1971). A thoughtful examination of the female psyche, these prints introduce the viewer to the complex world of relationships between women and girls, a subject that Mann would pursue in later works. The lushness of the Shenandoah Valley is portrayed in early landscapes dating from 1972 to 1974. The last of these images were taken with a hundred-year-old 8 x 10 camera that was given to Mann by a friend. The 8 x 10 would become Mann's camera of choice. These early landscapes show the distinctive vignetting that results from using a lens which does not completely cover the film plane.

Widely renowned, Sally Mann is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including three National Endowment for the Arts grants, two National Endowment for the Humanities grants and a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, among others. Her work is part of the collections of such prominent museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.