Above: Nydia Blas
"Into the Light" at Daniel Cooney Gallery in New York City (June 21-August 3) includes historical images and contemporary work by emerging artists and more experienced working artists. "Into the Light" offers a gamut of representations of women throughout history as portrayed by women, including self-portraiture.
Within the grouping of images are a range of ideas, genres, and concerns including various perceptions of femininity, desire, self-expression, economic and social status, gender, race, companionship, and love. At the nucleus of the exhibition is Ruth Orkin's iconic American Girl in Italy, 1951, which was published in Cosmopolitan to illustrate an article titled "Don't Be Afraid to Travel Alone." In addition to Orkin's photograph are more images that are playful and life-affirming while equally complex and nuanced.
Annie Tritt's photographs of transgender youth are powerful and intimate as she portrays her subjects with the utmost respect and care for their young lives. Emilie Regnier's "Hair" portraits of women of the Ivory Coast examine the diverse identities of African women as expressed through current hairstyles. Pixy Liao's photographs examine gender and power dynamics mixed with Western perceptions of Chinese culture.
Many images in the show look at intimacy in its various forms. Joanne Leonard's photograph of a daughter fixing her mother's hair in a family bedroom intersects with Joyce Culver and Sophia Wallace's portrayal of companionship and romantic love between women. Kia Labeija portrays herself boldly, sitting on a doctor's examination table, spotlight on her in a radiant red gown, white rose in hand, while having blood drawn by an anonymous male doctor.
While all the women in this exhibition can be described as trailblazers we want to especially note the inclusion of the early practicioners. Julia Margaret Cameron is regarded as one of the most important artists of the 19th century. Jessie Tarbox Beals was the first female photojournalist, and in the 1920s she photographed bohemian Greenwich Village. Imogen Cunningham made intimate portraits in addition to botanical studies and still lifes. She was regarded as a modernist pioneer and an independent spirit. Ilse Bing was German-born and spent much of her creative life of the 1930s in Paris, where many of her artistic contemporaries were men. Barbara Morgan is best known for her iconic gestural photographs of modern dancers and her abstract montages. She was also a cofounder of Aperture Magazine.