Sunday, January 27, 2013

Esther Bubley

They didn’t realize she was there, she wasn’t invading them, she was sort of floating around.  And all of the sudden they saw themselves, not unpleasantly, yet with her discernment…and they said “My God, it’s interesting.” - Roy Stryker

Way back in June 2012, MCAD had an exhibition entitled About Change: MCAD Alumni and Acts of Transformation.

What does it mean to “transform the world through creativity and purpose?” Using the college's vision statement as a point of departure, this exhibition spotlights the myriad ways in which MCAD alumni have contributed to the transformation of the cultural landscape, in Minnesota and beyond.

The creative practices of a dozen individuals working in the fine arts, graphic design, illustration, film, and interactive media are featured, including Norman Andersen '76, Charles S. Anderson '81, Esther Bubley '41, Keetra Dean Dixon ('99), Wanda Gág '16, Dan Jurgens '81, Karolina Karlic '05, JK Keller '99, Kathleen Laughlin '68, George Morrison '43, Mike Perry '03, and Peter Williams '75.

One of my favorite photographers, Esther Bubley, was featured, and it was awesome chance to delve into her history as I had always felt a strong connection to her. The show required a lot of research, and it was a joy to spend day after day flipping through old magazines, books, and learning anything I could.  Amazingly it resulted in an opportunity to lecture about her life and work as part of the exhibition programming, Silent Witness.  The title of course being a riff off the book Silent Witnesses: Representations of Working-Class Women in the United States, which not only features Bubley, but is an awesome read by itself.

Long story short, here are some great quotes about/by her and some work!

In the opinion of some people, the creative ability and success of a professional photographer are directly related to the Photographer’s Qualities.  These are:  accent, goatee, monocle, creative corduroy suits, paratrooper shoes, commanding voice and a keen sense of how ride roughshod over people.

Having none of these qualities to any discernible degree, Esther Bubley has been doomed many times to a far duller and less rewarding life than she actually leads.  Those who have so doomed her by proclamation include two teachers, government officials, several “famous photographers,” and at least one picture editor of a well known picture magazine.

In her path, past these various portents and prophets of her doom, small, quiet, unassuming miss Bubley has managed to raise her price per picture by one of the most astronomical multiplications known in photography.  She has also managed to achieve a photographic life combining elements of amateur and professional attributes in proportions that other people envy.  - Modern Photography, 1952

Girl sitting alone in the Sea Grill, a bar and restaurant waiting for a pickup. "I come in here pretty often, sometimes alone, mostly with another girl, we drink beer, and talk, and of course we keep our eyes open--you'd be surprised at how often nice, lonesome soldiers ask Sue, the waitress, to introduce them to us"


Which is kind of funny as Bubley said:

I like to read about the new trends…but I don’t like them.  Cindy Sherman takes pictures of herself dressed as anything from a bag lady to Marilyn Monroe and makes enormous six-by-eight foot glossy prints.  I feel photos should be more of a recording of what is going on in people’s lives, I don’t think they should make them up.  Sherman and other photographers with this style should be painters, except they probably can’t paint.

The Realta Hotel in a white room with watermelon curtains. I think that the wonderful thing that is happening or has happened to me is that I am growing up; or I am grown up and enjoying it. I have found the human race. It is like finding one's family at last. I have no more silly questions about what is art or why is art. Seeing the great works of the Italian Renescance [sic] has answered them. It is a personal thing. These people are my ancestors in spirit if not in fact. I think feeling like this must be akin to feeling religion although it is different. No questions are answered but they need not be. - Diary entry, 1952

Her body of work is so vast that it's almost insulting how little I've shown here.

Some great further reading:

No comments:

Post a Comment